Duvar English

Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader Ali Babacan has claimed that officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) are in a race for gaining personal financial benefits.

“Gaining pushes people in that direction, their aim is to acquire financial gains for themselves,” Babacan told broadcaster Halk TV on May 25, adding that the number of “decent officials thinking like us have significantly decreased.”

“They are struggling for various things, but to no avail. That’s why I founded a new party,” he added.

Babacan is a founding member of the AKP, which has been ruling 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.

Babacan filed the application to launch DEVA on March 9, eight months after he resigned from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP over “deep differences.”

During the interview, Babacan also said that it’s very difficult for the AKP to fix the economy, adding that the country’s reputation and economy are “in ruins.”

“The AKP is destroying what it built with its own hands. The reputation and the economy of the country is in ruins. The number of competent people have decreased in the ruling party. Decisions are being adopted without consultations and inside a family,” he said.

“I had a strict stance on wrong people being included in the party, especially in the teams that I was responsible for. When I saw similar incidents in other institutions, I went to high-level officials to urge them not to do so. However, we weren’t taken into account and as the wrong people took part in the party, the decent ones withdrew,” Babacan added.

DEVA leader noted that no clubs, foundations or religious groups must be allowed to have a weight within the state.

“No matter which structure it is. No team must be filled with people from certain groups,” he said.

Commenting on Turkey’s switch to an executive presidential system, Babacan noted that he was asked to promote it before the April 16, 2017 referendum on constitutional amendments.

“When there was a parliamentary system, each party would compete in elections in their own identities. There would be coalitions or single party governments. However, the system is so wrong that it made alliances before the elections obligatory. Those who said, ‘Coalitions will be over’ are now forced to make alliances,” Babacan said.

Turkish voters said “yes” to shifting the country’s governance system to an executive presidency with a controversial referendum on constitutional amendments on April 16, 2017.

The country shifted to the system officially on July 9, 2018, replacing a 95-year-old parliamentary system.

The system granted sweeping powers to Erdoğan and allowed him to be both the AKP leader and the president at the same time.

“They asked me to promote the system and said, ‘People trust you.’ But I said, ‘People would vote ‘no’ if I talk. It’s a terrible system. Parliament is left out of picture. Even the appointments in the judiciary are determined by the head of the government,” Babacan said.

“Things in the country haven’t been going well ever since the presidential logo is side by side with a party logo,” he added.

Saying that people he was told about the risk of getting arrested, Babacan said, “Fear disperses when you accept all the risks.”

Commenting on main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks on the possibility of a number CHP lawmakers switching to DEVA to secure their run elections, Babacan said, “We don’t find it appropriate to discuss this issue at the moment.”

He also said that the party is prepared for a possible amendment on the law on political parties that would drive new parties out of the race.

According to Turkish law, a political party has to finalize its organization process in more than half of the cities in Turkey and hold its first convention six months before the election date.

If a political party has a group in parliament with 20 lawmakers, it will have the right to participate in the elections and present a presidential candidate. The party also becomes eligible to get financial aid from the Treasury for the elections.