ISTANBUL—In a major political shake-up in Turkey, Ali Babacan, a former economy minister and once-close confidante of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, recently ended months of speculation and formally launched a new political party to challenge his old boss. Babacan, who resigned last July from Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or AKP, formally launched his new Democracy and Progress Party on March 11, at a rally in the capital, Ankara.
The DEVA party, as it is known—Turkish for “cure”—unites a slate of former Erdogan allies, including three other former AKP ministers, six former AKP members of parliament and one sitting lawmaker who resigned from the AKP earlier this month.
Many of the new party’s 90 founding members are new to politics, though, a deliberate move apparently designed to broaden its appeal.
One notable absence from the list is Abdullah Gul, a former AKP heavyweight who served as president and prime minister and is close to Babacan. He had been expected to join him in the DEVA party. Rumored to be unhappy with the new party’s strategy, Gul could simply be biding his time to see if it can build a credible support base.