Duvar English – Reuters

Former deputy prime minister Ali Babacan filed an application to launch his political party, following months of preparations.

Babacan said that he submitted the application to the Interior Ministry and that he will launch his long-awaited political party on March 11, eight months after he resigned from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over “deep differences.”

Babacan is a founding member of the AKP, which has ruled Turkey since 2002, served as economy and then foreign minister before becoming deputy prime minister, a role he held from 2009 to 2015. He was well regarded by foreign investors during his time in charge of the economy.

The party will reportedly be called the Democracy and Progress Party, with its abbreviation “DEVA” meaning “remedy” in Turkish.

There are 90 individuals on the party’s founders list. The list includes academics and former military officials, including Metin Gürcan.

Mustafa Yeneroğlu, who resigned from the AKP in October 2019 over his dissatisfaction of the AKP’s policies in terms of human rights violations and damages to democratic institutions, is also among the founders of the party.

Babacan is also receiving outside support from the country’s former president Abdullah Gül, who was also among the AKP’s founders.

Speaking during an interview early on March 9, Babacan said that Turkey needed a “fresh start” and called for reforms to strengthen the rule of law and democracy.

“The need has emerged for a fresh start in Turkey,” Babacan said in an interview broadcast live on Turkey’s Fox TV.

“Nearly 20 years have passed [since the AKP was founded]… Turkey has changed and unfortunately the political party of which I was a member began to do things very contrary to its founding principles,” he said.

“There is a powerful need to create a more prosperous and livable Turkey and this is not possible with the current political order,” Babacan said, stressing the importance of democracy, rule of law and human rights.

Opposition politicians, human rights groups and the European Union have long accused Erdoğan and his party of trampling on basic freedoms, jailing critics and undermining democracy, especially since a failed 2016 military coup.

In December another one-time close ally of Erdoğan, former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, established the Future Party to rival the AKP.

Turkey’s poor economic performance since a 2018 currency crisis has also eaten into support for Erdoğan and his party.

Last week, closely followed pollster Metropoll published a report showing Erdoğan’s job approval in Turkey had fallen to 41.1 percent, down from 48 percent around October when a military operation launched in northeast Syria gave the president a boost.

The latest survey was carried out before Turkey’s ramped up a separate army operation in northwest Syria’s Idlib region.

However polls also show limited support for his emerging political rivals. A Metropoll survey last month put support for Davutoğlu’s party at 1.2 percent and for Babacan’s prospective party at 0.8 percent. The poll put AKP support on 40 percent, down from 42.6 percent at a 2018 general election.