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Thu, 12 Dec 2019 23:53 GMT

Erdogan Losing Party Members Amid Economic Crisis


7Dnews London - Ahmed Fathi

Sun, 21 Jul 2019 00:18 GMT

The potential collapse of the Turkish economy and the external problems facing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have apparently affected the country's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Some of AKP's former leaders have broken their silence and hinted at the possibility of being a threat to Erdogan's chair, the German news site Deutsche Welle (DW) reported.

After losing to political opposition groups in the mayoral elections of Turkey's main cities, such as the capital Ankara and Istanbul, Erdogan faces a new challenge: old allies seeking to split from the AKP and establishing their own parties.

The "Holy Union" around the Turkish president seems to be cracking, indicated by the unprecedented steps of former Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu and former economy minister Ali Babacan, DW said.

In recent weeks, the two men have criticised Turkey's tendencies under Erdogan's administration.

The comments gave credence to persistent rumours of the intention of Davutoglu and Babacan, two critical figures nearby Erdogan in the past, to form their own parties to challenge the ruling AKP. Babacan made the first move on July 8th.

Babacan, who is widely respected and credited with the economic success of the AKP in his first decade, declared his resignation from the party, taking the "sacrifice" of the principles and referring to the need for a "new vision" for Turkey.

With inflation in Turkey at 15.7%, economic shrinking at 2.6%, and unemployment down to 13%, in the first quarter of 2019, many Turks see Babacan as the man who can find solutions to the country's problems. They think he might be the right alternative for Erdogan in 2023 presidential elections.

Ten days after the Babacan declaration, Ahmet Davutoglu emerged from his usual silence, hinting that he was also ready to form a new party. When he stepped down as prime minister in 2016, Davutoglu pledged not to criticise Erdogan publicly. However, he will not be silent about what he sees as shortcomings in the ruling party.

Davutoglu, a divided figure, is far from certain that other members of the AKP will be dragged if he chooses to form a new party.

According to Turkish media, Babacan could depend on another prominent AKP figure, such as former President Abdullah Gul, for forming a dissident faction.

According to Leslie Hintz of Johns Hopkins University, Erdogan "may fight everything he sees as a threat to the hegemony he embodies."

Hintz recalls examples of the detention of Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas since 2016, who is strongly opposed to Erdogan, as well as the ongoing trials of civil society figures and opponents of AKP.

She believes that the success of a party founded by Babacan "probably depends on how well it can deliver concrete plans to address economic problems and social inequalities."

Hintz also believes that Babacan has "an opportunity to mobilise the centre-right of Turkey, especially relying on general discontent with the personal enrichment of AKP leaders while the Turkish economy is plunged into crisis."

Analysts believe that the emergence of dissident figures from the ruling could have a "destructive" effect on Erdogan's re-election.

Middle East Asia