Müzeyyen Yüce / DUVAR
Turkey's Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) reelected Ali Babacan as its leader during the party's first ordinary congress on Dec. 29.
Babacan received the votes of 515 delegates out of 523 in the race that he was the sole candidate and was elected as the party leader. Eight delegates' votes have been declared void.
Forty-eight current members of the party's Central Executive Board have not changed, but two more people (Aysun Hatipoğlu and Özge İrem Morkoç) have been named as new members. With the two additions, the number of women in the party's Central Executive Board has increased to 20.
Due to the COVID-19 measures, only the party's executives and delegates have participated in the congress that took place in Ankara's Atatürk Sports Hall.
Babacan criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) during the congress, saying Turkey needs a better government, justice and welfare.
“With the biased President, [with the practice of appointing] their relatives, sons-in-law [to government positions], they have finished the country. What they now say as the 'survival' of Turkey is in fact their survival. They have torn down the confidence in this country's institutions,” Babacan said, promising a “much better future” should DEVA come to power.
He criticized the government's practice of replacing democratically elected mayors with trustees, saying it amounts to the rejection of democracy. Babacan was referring to Ankara's intensifying crackdown on the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) as the Interior Ministry appointed trustees to 48 HDP municipalities alone this year.
Babacan also criticized a recently passed law that gives the state the power to replace boards of NGOs with trustees.
“They have appointed trustees to municipalities one by one. And now they will appoint trustees to NGOs. Well, then also appoint trustees to political parties! This country cannot be managed by appointing trustees,” he said.
“Our country does not even one minute to waste anymore. Therefore, I here call on our party organization: You will take the problems persisting at the local level to the center of politics. You will keep making visits from a neighborhood to another one, from a village to another one, and find a solution to people's problems,” he said.
At the congress, the party selected provincial heads for all 81 of Turkey’s provinces.
Babacan presided over Turkey’s economy from 2009 to 2015. In March of this year, he founded DEVA in a move to challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rule.