Davutoğlu, Babacan could nab votes of disillusioned AKP supporters - analyst

The arrival of two political movements by former breakaway members of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2020 will mark a historic moment for the country as they will provide the Kurdish population alienated by AKP policies with alternate political avenues, wrote Kurdish journalist Jiwan Soz.

Former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and former deputy Prime Minister  in charge of the economy, Ali Babacan, were among the most famous defectors from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling AKP earlier this year amid a wave of resignations.

Both are attempting to form new national parties to disrupt the hegemony of the AKP as they are seeking to capture votes from their former party’s support base, Soz said in an article he penned for the Fikra Forum, an initiative of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Washington Institute.

Davutoğlu and Babacan’s departures from the AKP, which has ruled Turkey for 17 years, followed the party’s greatest defeat at the polls to date in the March local elections. The AKP lost five of Turkey’s most populous provinces, including Istanbul and Ankara, to the main opposition party.

For a political party already in decline, Soz said, Turkey’s recent political moves such as its offensive in northern Syria targeting Kurdish forces would further alienate any remaining Kurdish support that they might have had.

The former AKP bigwigs pose a new kind of threat to Erdoğan’s party, Soz said, pointing to a 10 percent decrease in AKP membership in the past year.

Another factor leading to the loss of support for the AKP, particularly among Kurdish voters, is the ongoing crackdown by government against the country’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

Ankara accuses the HDP of harbouring sympathies to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting in the country’s southeast for over three decades for autonomy, and has removed 28 HDP mayors in the Kurdish-majority southeast from their seats since local elections.

The former AKP heavyweights, must be willing to more overtly criticise the AKP’s policies towards Turkey’s and Syria's Kurdish population to gain the Kurdish voters, Soz said.

Meanwhile, if Erdogan’s AKP fails to learn from its previous mistakes and make proper reforms, the Islamist party risks becoming emaciated and incapable of fighting in the foreign or domestic domains, the journalist said.