Turkey’s Erdoğan could have compromised to stop breakaway parties - columnist

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could have prevented his former comrades from forming two new political parties if he had agreed to shift the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s focus back to its reformist founding principles, Karar columnist Mehmet Ocaktan said on Friday.

When former deputy prime minister Ali Babacan and former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu quit the AKP last year to begin setting up two new rival parties, both complained that the ruling party had moved away from the democratic principles that brought it massive early success.

The party won a majority in the 2002 elections thanks to Turkish electoral law that assigns seats won by parties that do not break the 10 percent electoral threshold to the next highest party that does. It maintained its commanding position in elections for the next 13 years with a strong economic performance and an early focus on European Union entry and the rights-based reforms required for this.

But since losing its majority in 2015, the AKP has adopted a far stricter style of rule, transferring ever greater powers to the president, and the economy has entered a shaky period.

The two new parties are looking to fill the gap left when the AKP stopped being a reformist party, Ocaktan said, calling Babacan’s description of his planned political movement “a modernised form of the AKP’s founding principles.”

Ocaktan said that if Erdoğan had looked to appease the disillusioned party veterans by promising a return to the ruling party’s old path, they would have happily remained with the AKP.