Ex-Erdoğan ally Babacan expresses regret over 2017 referendum

Former deputy prime minister and opposition DEVA leader Ali Babacan has said that he wishes he would publicly campaign against the 2017 referendum that changed Turkey’s system to today’s presidential regime.

Duvar English

Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader and former deputy prime minister Ali Babacan has said that he regrets not publicly campaigning against the 2017 referendum that changed Turkey’s system to presidential regime.

When asked “What is your biggest regret during your AKP period?,” Babacan said "I wish I had (publicly) said in 2017 that 'don't vote yes to this wrong (system)’” during a Q&A session on social media website Ekşi Sözlük, similar to Reddit’s Ask Me Anything. 

"In 2015, I decided to withdraw from politics and not to speak," he said.

In April 2017, today’s hyper-presidential system was voted in a referendum under state of emergency conditions. The system was approved by 51.41% of the votes, abolishing Prime Minister duty for the first time in the history of the Republic of Turkey since 1923.

Babacan was still a deputy in the parliament from the AKP when the referendum was held, despite him saying that he criticized AKP’s policies inside the party without publicly announcing at the time.

He resigned from the AKP in July 2019. 

When asked about whether he has a role in increasing authoritarianism and "today’s worsening situation," Babacan said “While I was in government, good things happened both in the economy and in foreign policy, bad things also happened, but there were more good things."

Babacan presided over Turkey’s economy from 2009 to 2015 as a senior executive from the ruling AKP. He now often says that Turkey’s economy “advanced” and “prosperity increased” in the mid and late-2000’s under his command of economics. Whereas then PM, now President Erdoğan says that without him it would not happen, stating "I was the PM, I signed (the bills)."

In March 2020, Babacan founded DEVA in a move to challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rule. He is now a part of the Table of Six, an opposition alliance created by six opposition leaders to change Erdoğan’s presidential regime and replace it with a “strengthened” parliamentary system.