The political party of former deputy prime minister Ali Babacan - which the Turkish public has been eagerly awaiting - was founded at a critical time for Turkey, both domestically and on the international stage.
Of course, as soon as it was founded, the party was the target of intense attacks. The pro-government media had been castigating the movement for months, before its name and founders were disclosed.
They argue there is no void in the political arena and that Turkey already has more than enough political parties. The wrote that the Democrat Party (1946-61) was founded to fill the void that was formed when people were fed up with the CHP and the one-party dictatorship. What void would DEVA fill? The government mouthpieces further said that while ANAP (center-right, neo-liberal) was formed in 1983 under military rule, political leaders were banned, political parties were closed down and a large political void prevailed, adding that former President Turgut Özal made use of the already existing void then. In short they claimed Babacan was attempting to fill a void that did not exist.
Any credulous outsider who reads these papers would come to believe that everything is working well in the country and that the economy is thriving. According to their narratives, Turkey would have also overtaken Europe in with regards to human rights and that the government should be nominated for an international prize in rule of law and democracy. Following this, what political void can there be?
These attacks on the part of the pro-government media were grimly predictable. They will lambaste anything that runs counter to the government. Still, it indeed questionable which problems DEVA will tackle.
In Turkey, mainstream parties are losing blood and government institutions have gradually evolved into one person. Those who have contributed to this process, including Ali Babacan along with several DEVA founders, are incapable of any self-criticism. That leaves their moral standing to be quite debatable.
Moreover, the list of the party founders has not met the public's expectations. Yet the party's new names could be explained by a attempt to not repeat the AKP and wish to embrace people who are more open to innovation compared to old-school politicians. It should also be added the share of women and young people in the party is higher than in that of other parties. These quotas may have contributed to the weak image of the founders’ committee.
Meanwhile, Mustafa Yeneroğlu who resigned from AKP and joined the new party spoke to Gazete Duvar, saying, “This party will not blame anybody for treason, will not antagonize anybody.” While DEVA may not denounce anybody for being a traitor or a marginal, Babacan and his team will doubtless be blamed for many things including treachery.
Another aspect of DEVA is its weakness on the Kurdish issue and with regards to the founder committee's regional representation. Its sensitivity toward the Kurdish issue has come out to be lower than expected because the party had organized a two-day workshop on this most crucial issue even before it was officially formed.
It was expected that figures hailing from the Kurdish regions would feature among the founders. As of now, only two deputies are in the list. Yet another weakness is that nobody from the Alevi movement belongs to the party.
The new party's strongest aspect could be the economy as suggested by Babacan's personality and the number of economists and technocrats belonging to the party.
On the other hand, certain conspiracists claim the tensions between Babacan and former President Abdullah Gül is a tactical game that aims to curb accusations that Gül is covertly leading the party.
In fact, the cold war between Babacan and Gül is anything but new. One of the reasons why the formation of the party was so protracted was a dispute between Gül and Babacan over the function and structure of the party. Still, there is no evidence pointing to a major split between the two politicians. It is true that names close to Gül do not feature among the party founders but the party organization does not only consist in the founders.
It seems like DEVA's relations with the opposition block and the Nation Alliance [CHP, İYİ, SP and DP] will determine its future. If DEVA, along with Future Party, develops a harmonious relationship with the opposition block, it is likely that in the next presidential election, Turkey will enter a brand-new political curve that could enable it to overcome the present authoritarian structure.