Top Turkish columnist scrutinises Babacan tactics

The performance in the first televised interview of a former deputy prime minister who quit the ruling Justice and Democracy Party (AKP) to launch a hotly anticipated new political movement was barely above average, said Ahmet Hakan, the newly appointed editor-in-chief of Hürriyet daily, on Friday.

Ali Babacan, who is widely credited for Turkey’s economic success in the early days of the ruling party, has rolled up his sleeves to establish a new liberal initiative that some say could pose a threat to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP. The politician is believed to be acting together with former President Abdullah Gül, who was also sidelined from the ruling party after Erdoğan took over as president in 2014.

“His performance wasn’t astounding but at least it was a tick higher than mediocre,” said Hakan about the 52-year-old politician’s performance on TV. 

“Something distracted me while I was listening to Ali Babacan,” he said, adding that he felt as if Gül’s ghost was wandering inside the studio. 

The columnist criticised Babacan for saying that the AKP’s policies had changed course since 2011, while the politician kept his seat in the cabinet until 2015. Hakan also said Babacan was pursuing a “cadre movement”, bringing together a large group of skilled people, while the global trend veered toward strongmen like Erdoğan. 

But Hakan praised Babacan for his tactic of not targeting Erdoğan directly. “He will try not to have a faceoff with Erdoğan. Good tactic,” Hakan said, adding that he was sure Gül had advised Babacan to take this course of action.