Former Turkish deputy PM may introduce new breakaway party this month - columnist

Ali Babacan, the former deputy prime minister who resigned from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in July, is set to bring his plans for a new political party forward through a press announcement this month, columnist Fatih Altaylı said in a piece for pro-government HaberTürk on Thursday.

A hotly anticipated centrist political movement centred around Babacan has been in the works for months, according to Turkish media reports.

Babacan and his team, which is believed to include other former heavyweights from the AKP, had been aiming to launch the party in November of December, insiders said in August.

Babacan and others involved in the project have kept tight-lipped so far.

Yet they will soon break their silence, Altaylı said, indicating September 15 as a probable date for a press conference introducing the new party.

This could be done in a television interview format with Babacan and four trusted journalists asking questions, Altaylı said. Though the discussion could well be ignored by the pro-government outlets that control the majority of Turkey’s press, the new party’s planners believe that the young demographic they are aiming for will watch and share it online, he said.

Another format that is being discussed would see journalists ask Babacan questions and wait for a written response, Altaylı said, noting that he believes this format to be unlikely.

The news that former heavy hitters from the AKP have been planning breakaway parties was not greeted warmly by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who called defectors from the party “traitors”.

Ahmet Davutoğlu, a former AKP prime minister who is planning to launch another new political party this year, was expelled from the ruling party alongside three colleagues on Monday.