Turkey’s ruling AKP plans meetings to prevent defections - Cumhuriyet

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is set to hold a series of meetings with disaffected party members in a belated effort to prevent defections to new political parties, secularist daily Cumhuriyet reported.

Two new political movements led by former AKP heavy hitters are expected to take shape by the end of the year. Many observers believe the new parties could pose a significant challenge to the ruling party.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has come out strongly against the breakaway parties, calling their leaders traitors and saying defectors would not be missed.

But the AKP appears to have decided a more conciliatory approach is necessary to head off a potential mutiny, according to Cumhuriyet journalist Emine Kaplan.

The party will hold meetings with discontented party members in provinces around Turkey, the report said.

AKP members see the meetings as beneficial, but believe they have come later than they should have, party staffers told Kaplan.

Ahmet Davutoğlu, a former AKP prime minister, is reportedly ready to take the first steps towards launching an Islamist party this month. Ali Babacan, who had success as the AKP’s deputy minister in charge of the economy before being sidelined in 2015, could launch his party as soon as November, reports have said.

With the arrival of the new parties imminent, the AKP has decided to bring its party congress process forward by one year to October in an attempt to shore up party organisations.

This has raised the risk that AKP officials who lose their positions will switch to the new parties, Cumhuriyet reported last week.