Former Turkish deputy prime minister Ali Babacan said on Monday he was resigning from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party over “deep differences” with the party’s direction and said that Turkey needed a new vision.
Babacan, along with former president Abdullah Gul, plans to launch a rival political party this year, according to people familiar with the matter, in a move that could further erode support for Erdogan following a stinging electoral defeat in Istanbul last month.
In a statement that appeared to hint at the formation of the rival party, Babacan said it had become impossible to remain a member of the AK Party (AKP).
“Under the current conditions, Turkey needs a brand new vision for its future. There is a need for correct analyses in every area, newly developed strategies, plans and programs for our country,” Babacan said.
“It has become inevitable to start a new effort for Turkey’s present and future. Many of my colleagues and I feel a great and historic responsibility towards this effort,” he said, adding that he had submitted his resignation to the party.
Babacan served as economy and foreign minister in the first years of AKP government before becoming deputy prime minister, a role he held from 2009 to 2015. Gul was president from 2007 until 2014, when then-prime minister Erdogan moved to the presidency.
With economic recession, unemployment and inflation hurting Turkish voters and eating into the Erdogan’s support base, any further erosion – even just a few percentage points – could be deeply damaging for his party, which already has to rely on an alliance with nationalists for its parliamentary majority.
A re-run mayoral election in Istanbul on June 23 handed Erdogan the biggest electoral loss of his political career. The defeat in Turkey’s largest city also emboldened critics within the AKP who have for years hinted at plans to form a new party.