Özlem Akarsu Çelik/DUVAR
After resigning from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has sped up the pace of the efforts to form his own political party, which sources say will be officially established in November of this year.
In recent years, countless rumors have circulated involving the formation of breakaway opposition parties, in particular spearheaded by Davutoğlu, former President Abdullah Gül, and other once-prominent AKP figures that have become discontent with their former party and its leader.
Davutoğlu and Babacan went seperate ways
This month, former Deputy PM Ali Babacan, who was in charge of economic affairs between 2009-2015, announced that he would be forming an opposition party of his own by the end of this year. There has been significant speculation as to whether or not Gül will have a role in Babacan’s party.
Among the founders of the AKP, Davutoğlu’s relationship with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan eventually developed signs of strain, partially resulting in Davutoğlu’s discomfort with Erdoğan’s desire for an executive presidential system. In April 2016, a lengthy document known as the Pelican files, believed to have been written by a hardcore faction of Erdoğan supporters, was published on an online blog. The document accused Davutoğlu of deviating from Erdoğan’s path and for being insufficiently loyal to the president, listening more than twenty specific events in which Davutoğlu and Erdoğan had clashed. The document also listed numerous media figures by name that it claimed to be loyal followers of Davutoğlu.
Weeks later in May 2016, following a meeting between Davutoğlu and Erdoğan, the former announced his resignation, prompting speculation that he had been forced out of his position by Erdoğan.
In April of this year, Davutoğlu shared with the public a 15-page manifesto containing criticisms of Erdoğan and his AKP, and in August announced that he was going to form a party. As a result, Davutoğlu was referred to a disciplinary committee for expulsion from the AKP, though he resigned in September before being ejected from his former party. At an ensuing press conference, he appeared with five politicians who also faced expulsion: former parliamentarians Selçuk Özdağ, Ayhan Sefer Üstün, Abdullah Başçı, former Ankara provincial head Nedim Yamalı and former Istanbul provincial head Selim Temurci.
Davutoğlu appearing in front of the camera not on his own but with five other prominent politicians showed the public that this formation was not merely a “one man” movement and also showed that it wasn’t “weak” as claimed by the AKP. After this appearance, other resignations followed one by one. Each of these caused discomfort within the AKP.
Independent judiciary a priority
According to one unnamed Davutoğlu ally, judicial independence is one of the issues he considers most important: “He says that democracy is impossible without an independent judiciary, and without democracy a reassuring and healthy-functioning economy is impossible,” the ally said.
It has been said that Davutoğlu and his team have been working on issues concerning the economy, the judiciary, and the public sphere for quite some time now, and that the party founders and programme would be clear by September-October, with the party officially forming by the end of November.
Critics of the breakaway party efforts from within opposition circles have frequently pointed out that key figures like Davutoğlu, Gül and Babacan have acted far too late in severing ties from Erdoğan and the AKP, and that these politicians are in fact complicit in Erdoğan’s consolidation of power and creation of what they describe as a party-state.