Ali Babacan has finally resigned from the AKP. But when will he found the new party, with whom, and which issues will be highlighted? Is there a possibility for him to act together with Ahmet Davutoğlu?
Translation: Melissa Clissold / Subtitles: Egemen Gök
Hello, good day. This is my second broadcast today. Ali Babacan finally resigned from the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Kemal Öztürk told us about this in the conversation we had with him here in the studio. He had told us that Ali Babacan had met with Erdoğan and had told him that he was going to resign. And today, we have seen that Ali Babacan resigned with a written explanation. Now, the latest arrangements are being made with regards to his party. And in this broadcast I would like to talk about what they have done, what they are doing and what they want to do. I have spoken to certain people from the cadre of Ali Babacan. They don’t want to share their names. But they are names I know. And I know that they are authorised to speak on behalf of Ali Babacan.
First of all, they are telling us that the party won’t be delayed. They are stressing two factors. The first is a ‘policies set’ – we used to say ‘party programme’ – regarding Turkey’s problems; suggestions about the problems Turkey is facing in 2019. This is being prepared on the one hand. Secondly, they are forming a staff team that will be able to bring these policies about. When they mention staff, they stress human resources. This shows us that new business terms will be reflected within the new party. They are telling us that they have been working hard on both these aspects, that both are close to finishing and when they do, without long, they will form their party.
Who is there? They don’t want to give names. There are certain names. Of course, we know about Ali Babacan. There are names of people that took on different roles during different periods of the AKP. We know that there are plenty of names of people who have been ministers, deputy chairmen, members of parliament. But they say that they don’t want to mention names because this may give the idea that they are forming a second AKP, when in fact they claim that there are plenty of new names. They are stating that people who have not been a part of the AKP, people from different backgrounds with varied ideologies will also be a part of the formation of this party. When we ask about names, they don’t want to share any because they think that the government, the ruling powers may block their path. But they are ambitious. So ambitious in fact, that when I asked them “How’s it going in terms of reaching out, adding new names?” They replied: “There is no one that we have reached out to that has said no.” This is a very ambitious reply. If this is the case, this looks like it could get interesting.
And there is a stress on “from within the country and from overseas.” They are stating that perhaps certain people living abroad, business people and academics will be a part of this party. How will people come from abroad? Maybe there are certain technocrats, people who have not entered politics before, that helped Ali Babacan during the time he was Deputy Prime Minister, and took on a huge responsibility with regards to the economy. Especially names within the fields of economy and business. But they are alleging that the scope is even wider.
And they are constantly stressing from “different ideologies, different backgrounds.” When I told them that I heard that Kurds were being given special attention and that during the party formation they wanted to provide a large area for Kurds, no one denied it. They are speaking positively about this. But they still don’t want to name names. Especially today, they believe that the particular stress on human rights in Ali Babacan’s written explanation will open the way for Kurds. When I asked Abdullah Gül, he said without hesitation, that “he will be a big brother”, and that “he will support them, show them the way.” But from what I understand, Abdullah Gül will not be playing an active role within the party. I was calling this sponsorship. But they say “brotherhood.” Some may say mentorship. Nevertheless, this is going to be Abdullah Gül’s party in one way or another. It is clear that this will be Abdullah Gül’s way of reckoning with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
I also told them that are clearly straying away from becoming a second AKP. And there is a stress on being the second Motherland Party (ANAP), especially due to their stress of ‘embracing everyone’, this was brought up. I brought it up also. But they feel uncomfortable about this. Because during that time, during ANAP’s founding, the Turkey then and the Turkey now is very different; again, in the same way, during the founding of the AKP, the Turkey then and the Turkey now is very different. They are claiming that they are a party that are appropriate for the conditions of 2019. So, it is clear that they want to create this party having learned from AKP’s and ANAP’s experiences.
How will they do this? How will they make themselves different? This is something I’m curious about. Up until now, if we think that most of the names in this new party are from the AKP, then there is an expectation that this will be a second AKP or ANAP. This is the same for Davutoğlu’s Party also. Within this opposition camp, there is a disposition to see this as a contrived fight. There is also stress on the fact that these people are also responsible for what the AKP has done. Therefore, there will need to be a lot of new faces in order to be a new party. New discourses. To what degree will they succeed? This is another curious topic. I can say that I’m very curious indeed. Because during the period of AKP’s founding, I remember, they had said new faces would be a part of them; they had said there would be different names apart from the traditionalists within the Welfare Party (RP). But there weren’t that many. And those that were new, didn’t really grab our attention. But maybe this time, Ali Babacan may have used his international network to bring someone in from aboard. We shall see.
I asked about the Davutoğlu factor. Maybe they aren’t acting together with Davutoğlu, and it doesn’t look like they will. But I have not seen anyone criticising Davutoğlu. Usually they say: “We respect our master and teacher. But the way we carry out politics is very different. It doesn’t look likely that these will overlap.” Davutoğlu, as far as I understand, is a little more Islamic for them, more rhetorical. It looks like they are trying to form a different, new language. In this respect, we can make a reference to the Özal period.
They are stating that they are taking very seriously the increase of right-wing populism in the world and new waves of extreme right ideologies, and that they will develop certain policies for Turkey to be rid of these views; they are also stating that they will follow up on European Union membership to the very end. How will it be possible to capture an anti-populist discourse? Maybe the West is against populism; but in Turkey they may use certain populist utterances. It’s a little complicated.
I asked about certain names, they don’t want to mention any names. But from what I understand, Mehmet Şimşek appears close to this movement. I don’t know if he’ll enter or not. But I know that he’s currently in the private sector. On the other hand, I know that Şimşek wants to be ‘re-won’ by the ruling powers; but there are strong rumours that Şimşek is not really going down that road. Therefore, it is likely that Mehmet Şimşek – and people that have important roles within the economy – will walk beside Ali Babacan.
So, what kind of party is being shaped here? Frankly speaking, I am a journalist who witnessed the splits experienced within the RP. This was a break away that lasted years. And we know that this [current breakaway] has been happening for a while. But during that time, during the splits that were occurring, the people that broke away were still playing very active roles within the party. And they wanted to transform the party from within. When they weren’t allowed to change things, they left. Yet, the names mentioned now – Ali Babacan, Abdullah Gül and those people we are guessing that are acting with them – are people that have been alienated, marginalised by Erdoğan. And they didn’t really exist within the party. They were on the outskirts. It looks like things are going to be tough for them. But it is clear that they have a certain advantage too: whilst there is an economic crisis within the country, due to Ali Babacan’s past performance regarding the economy, the party has a chance.
Another factor is with regards to Erdoğan’s bad reputation in the West. As he is not truly trusted, the West is looking for alternatives in Turkey. Their interest may have increased towards the Republican Party (CHP) after the Ekrem İmamoğlu incident. But the thesis that an alternative to AKP can come out of the AKP is still very strong in the West. In this respect, they may support Ali Babacan – a name they know and trust – in one way or another. Will they do it directly, straight away, will it be a lot? I don’t know, but it is certain they will prefer Ali Babacan over Erdoğan. It’s like this for a lot of centres in the West. As far as I know, Ali Babacan will be going abroad in the following days.
He will probably reach out to some people whilst there. And he will be talking about his new party and asking for support. And I don’t think he’ll have any trouble gaining this support. Maybe some people won’t openly support him because there is a chance he will lose. But, when we look at the financial circles, economic and politician environment and the media, we see that Ali Babacan is clearly advantageous compared to Erdoğan. But this isn’t enough. They must, within the country, take something away from the AKP. But more importantly, they must bring together people who aren’t from the AKP, in fact don’t even like the AKP, people who are against Erdoğan.
A final factor is this: Ali Babacan resigned today with an explanation. Will other names do this to? When I asked this, someone gave me the following answer: “Yes, we will. But we won’t do what Mr. Babacan has done. We don’t want to hurt people. Anyone can cancel their membership to parties on the Supreme Court website. We will be doing this.”
Yes, it has all started today. Ali Babacan has resigned. His party, I don’t think will be delayed too much, I think probably in September or October we will see it come into fruition. This party will be formed. And Davutoğlu will probably carry out new work in the face of these new developments. Let me say this again: We have invited both Ali Babacan and Ahmet Davutoğlu to Medyascope. Will they accept? Let’s see who we will be able to talk to? Or who will be the first one to be broadcast. Yes, that’s all I have to say. Have a good day.