Is a new political party on the horizon?
Amid sound and fury over the upcoming municipal elections slated for March 31, the Ankara politics is now shaking with growing rumors about the preparatory works for a new political party.
What kicked these rumors was the launch of anonymous web site www.yenibirparti.org in the recent weeks.
Although there are substantial information about the main political lines, including the new constitution, foreign and internal politics, economy and the Kurdish question, the web site does not identify who are the founders of this move.
But it gives some clues: “We are a team with high sense of responsibility who believes that the AK Party government has made history with its successes and failures in the last 16 years but now has tired and that our national interests should be taken by younger, eligible and uncorrupt cadres.”
The last 10 years of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments witnessed a sharp decline in the fields of justice, democracy and economy, read the web site, stressing that this new center-right party will go for a civilian constitution that endorses enhanced parliamentary system instead of current executive-presidential model.
It calls for change which ultimately turn Turkey into a “super power”.
It’s believed that the announcement of the new party will wait for the completion of municipal elections.
The timing will be decided in accordance with the results of the local elections,
particularly over the performance of the AKP.
As for those who are behind this move, there are three usual suspects: Abdullah Gül, former President and one of the founders of the AKP; Ahmet Davutoğlu, former prime minister and foreign minister; and Ali Babacan, former economy minister.
It’s important to note that none of these three politicians have either confirmed or denied these allegations.
It’s widely believed that these three are not acting together although there are contacts between them.
Abdüllatif Şener, a former AKP member and founder of the party along with Erdoğan and Gül but who today is a member of parliament from the ranks of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) told media that he was aware of some preparations by his old fellows.
But he also voiced skepticism whether they have enough courage to stand against Erdoğan.
“I am not so sure whether these works can end up forming a political party. Because they have always been very hesitant in doing so,” Şener said, in reference to Gül’s painful departure from the AKP.
All these three figures have one common point. They were sidelined by Erdoğan because of disagreements on main topics like democratization, economy and foreign policy preferences in the last five years.
All three were against of constitutional amendments on the concerns that it would further distance Turkey from value-based international system.
One other common point of these three men is the fact that they have so far not dared to formally stand against Erdoğan although for example Abdullah Gül had chances to do so.
He turned down to be represented as the presidential candidate of the Felicity Party before June 24 polls as he was eyeing to be the joint candidate of all oppositional parties.
The timing of the initiative is also noteworthy. It seems the curators of the party are hoping to get ready for the next presidential elections in 2023 after an intense four-year work.
A decrease in the AKP votes and in-house debates at the oppositional parties in the mayoral elections would sure give momentum and motivation for those who eye an opportunity for the new party’s born.
The rumors are so strong that even President Erdoğan spoke about them in televised interviews.
“There were those who had formed parties in the past but their end is well-known,” Erdoğan said, describing the AKP’ as a political party with a cause. “If we are men with a cause, then there should be no treason,” he said.
This characterization by Erdoğan has been well embraced by senior AKP officials as well as pro-government columnists who have launched a well-organized campaign against all three men.
There is no doubt that these voices would turn harsher and more aggressive if these dissidents can ever form their political party.
A new political party on the center-right with high-level figures would be the last thing Erdoğan and his AKP would like to live with in the coming period until the 2023 elections.