AKP breakaway party to steer clear of Erdoğan’s identity politics – Artı Gerçek

Former ranking officials of Turkey’s ruling party, who plan to establish a new party in September, aim to end polarisation in the country stemming from identity politics, the modus operandi of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, journalist Sibel Hürtaş said in Artı Gerçek news site on Saturday.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and former President Abdullah Gül have stepped up efforts to launch their centrist-liberal party, after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) suffered its greatest defeat in 17 years by losing five of Turkey’s most populous provinces, including Istanbul and Ankara, in the March 31 local elections.

Hürtaş said former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu would not join the party that would rival Erdoğan, as former AKP luminaries gathered around Babacan thought Davutoğlu did not have support in society and was remembered for his policies in Syria.

Former Interior Minister Beşir Atalay, former Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, former head of Turkish constitutional court Haşim Kılıç and veteran journalist Fehmi Koru will also take part in a commission designed to shape the political direction of the new party, according to Euronews.

According to Hürtaş, Babacan and his team also want to avoid being perceived as a breakaway party and therefore will shut their doors to other members of the AKP who have been sidelined by Erdoğan.

The new party is also expected to transfer some members of the nationalist Good (İYİ) Party and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Hürtaş said.

The journalist said that the new party’s leadership also rules out a “nationalist conservative liberal left” framework. “To the contrary, the country lost so much because of Erdoğan’s identity politics,” an unnamed source in Babacan’s group told Hürtaş. The source said those who wanted to join the initiative should leave their identities aside.

According to Nagehan Alçı, a columnist at pro-government Habertürk news site, the new initiative will be named “Freedom and Law Party,’’ which she said was chosen as it represented Babacan’s worldview.

Ertuğrul Günay, a liberal-left politician and the former culture minister of the AKP, will also join the party, according to Artı Gerçek.

“Turkey suffered a lot from parties that avoid consultations, from single-man rules in political parties. The new movement should address all groups,” Günay told Artı Gerçek.