Opposition DEVA convenes for its first ordinary congress

Opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) led by Ali Babacan, a former Deputy Prime Minister from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), convened for its first Ordinary Congress in Ankara on December 29.

The congress was held earlier than anticipated. In accordance with the Turkish political parties act, a political party must be organized in at least half of the 81 provinces and hold its ordinary congress with elected delegates at least 6 months before the elections.

Babacan made a speech at the congress pointing out to the arbitrary governance of the country based on a single person. "Foreign policy is pursued with personal ambitions, the prestige of our country in the world fell through the floor. A country of 84 million is governed by a single person and a narrow group of decision makers", he said.

Babacan also criticized the government’ recent crackdown on opposition parties and civil society. ‘Instead of rule of law, the rule of a person's arbitrary decisions is adopted. Human rights and freedoms are curtailed. Trustees are appointed to municipalities, people's will is disregarded. Civil society organizations are put under pressure. The entire state is governed with loyalty to a single person, instead of loyalty to the law’’, he said.

DEVA was launched in March by Ali Babacan, a former deputy prime minister credited with successfully steering Turkey’s economy during AKP’s first decade in power. Babacan presents his new party as liberal democratic and pro-Western.

DEVA is the second breakaway from the AKP, the first being the Future Party of former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, which was established in 2019's December. Both leaders have called for reforms, pointing to fatigue within the AKP, as the ruling party approaches the end of its second decade in power, but differ in specific policy positions.

During the convention, Ramiz Ongun, a former member of AKP’s current coalition partner Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), who served as the party’s youth leader and ran for party chairman three times, delivered the opening remarks.