Former Turkish deputy prime minister Ali Babacan has warned of the dangers of “one man rule” and the “dark tunnel” that Turkey finds itself in, while saying that he hopes to have formed a new political party by the end of the year to challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Babacan resigned from the AKP in July, citing "deep differences". After helping to co-found the Islamist-rooted populist party, which has ruled Turkey since 2002, he went on to serve as economy and then foreign minister under Erdogan before becoming deputy prime minister for a period lasting from 2009 to 2015.
"We have seen that Turkey has entered a dark tunnel, with its problems on every issue growing by the day," Babacan told Turkish broadcaster HaberTurk on November 26 in his first live interview since resigning from the AKP.
"Consequently we have begun our efforts to create a new party," he added.
In the interview, Babacan largely refrained from directly criticising Erdogan. But he several times referred to a lack of democracy under "one-man rule".
"There were important principles and values during the foundation of the AKP, but there has been a significant departure from these principles. This has become a national issue, and we felt a serious responsibility toward our country," he added.
Babacan said former Turkish president Abdullah Gul, another AKP co-founder and former Erdogan ally, would work as an adviser or "big brother" to his fledgling party. However, he ruled out former Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu, who fell out with Erdogan in 2016 and has criticised the AKP's economic policy amid Turkey’s economic turmoil, joining his new party.
Turkey’s next elections are scheduled for 2023. There is speculation that Erdogan’s need to reassert his authority and rebuild his popularity may push him to call snap elections even as early as next year.
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