Senior Turkish ruling party figures likely to form rival in autumn - Reuters

A number of senior members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will likely establish a new rival political party in the autumn, Reuters said citing advisers of former AKP luminaries.

They include the former deputy prime minister, Ali Babacan, and the former president, Abdullah Gül, Reuters said.

The AKP’s defeats in March 31 local polls and its loss in the rerun of the Istanbul mayoral election on June 23 have emboldened critics in the party, and encouraged Babacan and Gül, who have been working on plans to establish a new party for six months

“With economic recession, unemployment and inflation hurting Turkish voters and eating into the AKP’s support base, any further erosion - even just a few percentage points of voter support – could be deeply damaging for the party, which already relies on an alliance with nationalists for its parliamentary majority,” Reuters said. 

“Babacan and Gül will most likely form the party in the fall,” Reuters quoted an adviser of Babacan as saying. 

According to the adviser, the new party’s policies would mirror those of the AKP in its early years with an emphasis on economic and democratic reforms and a Western-oriented foreign policy

The politicians have not made their plans public, but Gül expressed his discontent with AKP, following the ruling party’s appeal against the March 31 Istanbul vote after opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu was declared victory by a narrow margin. 

BBC Turkish on Wednesday reported that Babacan, who served as economy and foreign minister in the first years of AKP government before becoming deputy prime minister, visited Erdoğan last week and told him that he wanted to leave the ruling party’s founders’ board. According to BBC Turkish, he did not mention any decision to resign from the AKP and establish a new political party.

Euronews said Babacan is considering declaring a third way manifesto in July, when Ankara is expected to make critical decisions about its foreign policy, particularly on the purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems which may lead to the United States to expel Turkey from the programme to build F-35 fighter jets.

The Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Friday that Erdoğan had been trying to persuade Babacan to stay in the AKP and had also tried to learn the intentions of Mehmet Şimşek, the former deputy prime minister in charge of the economy who left Erdoğan’s cabinet after June 24 elections last year.