Former Turkish Economy Chief Wants to Undo Erdogan’s Power Grab

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By Cagan Koc  – Bloomberg

  • Ali Babacan plans to start a new political party this year
  • Babacan discusses political system in television interview

Ali Babacan

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s former economy chief wants to hand some power back to parliament and reverse the Turkish president’s constitutional overhaul that tightened his grip on the country.

Ali Babacan, who served as deputy prime minister and is now setting up his own party, said it’s not “right” to continue with the current political system and aims to establish “a proper parliamentary system” that prioritizes separation of powers and checks and balances.

“Turkey has freedom of speech, justice issues and a burning economy problem,” he said in an interview broadcast on Haberturk television on Tuesday. He vowed to work with all parts of Turkish society to address them, regardless of religious and political views.

Babacan, 52, presided over the boom times that tripled the size of Turkey’s economy following the financial crisis of 2001. He’ll be taking on his former boss after the economy was weakened by diplomatic rows with the U.S. and as resistance grows to Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule.

Here are some highlights from the interview:

  • Babacan said he left Erdogan’s ruling AK Party because it drifted from its principles such as transparency, accountability and taking decisions through consultation
  • Turkey is “very far” from its 2023 economic goals: “We need predictability to attract long-term investment”
  • Babacan warned that “loneliness” in foreign policy constitutes a huge risk: “Turkey needs to restore its trustworthiness and credibility through international law principles.”
  • Babacan said he is taking steps to ensure his party “doesn’t turn into yet another one-man movement”
  • His new political party’s main values will be based on human rights, freedom, democracy and rule of law

 

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