In his long political career, Abdullah Gul, Turkey’s former president and co-founder of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has been widely perceived — deservedly or not — as a politician averse to taking risks. Beyond any perceptions and opinions, however, the fact today is that Gul has assumed the role of a “guide” in a long-rumored plan to set up a new party that threatens to split the AKP. In the first tangible indication of a breakup, Ali Babacan, the AKP’s former economic czar, quit the party July 8.
In his resignation, Babacan — who served in several AKP governments under the now-defunct parliamentary system, most recently as deputy premier in charge of the economy — said that he had grown “mentally and emotionally estranged” from his party and that Turkey needed “a brand new vision for the future.” In two brief sentences heralding the new party, he 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 toward this effort.”