Former Erdogan ally Babacan applies to launch political party

Istanbul (Reuters) – Former Turkish deputy prime minister Ali Babacan said he was applying on Monday to launch his long-awaited political party, eight months after he resigned from President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party.

Babacan announced last July that he was resigning from the AKP over “deep differences” about its direction and his move to establish a new party was seen as potentially eroding support for Erdogan’s party.

“We will confirm the party’s name at a launch programme on Wednesday,” Babacan said, adding that his supporters would submit to the Interior Ministry on Monday an official request to establish the party.

A founding member of the Islamist-rooted AKP, which has ruled Turkey since 2002, Babacan served as economy and then foreign minister before becoming deputy prime minister, a role he held from 2009 to 2015.

Economic difficulties in the wake of a 2018 currency crisis ate into support for Erdogan’s support base. Further erosion – even just a few percentage points – would damage the AKP, which already has to rely on an alliance with nationalists for its parliamentary majority.

In December another one-time close ally of Erdogan, former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, established the Future Party to rival the AKP.