Turkey’s ex-PM ditches faultering Erdogan

Turkey’s ex-PM ditches faultering Erdogan

Former Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, who was forced out of office in May 2016, has emerged as an outspoken critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

He resigned from Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) this month. 

The 60-year-old academic is one of several former ministers to have left the party in recent months and he is leading one of two rival parties. 

The other breakaway faction is led by Ali Babacan, an ex-finance minister and deputy prime minister, who is working with another former Erdogan ally, the former president Abdullah Gul.

The rival parties are due to be launched before the end of 2019. 

Turkey received 40 million tourists last year, bringing in nearly US$30 billion of much-needed revenue for an economy on increasingly shaky ground.

Erdogan appears keen to bolster his Islamic credentials. A ban on smoking in cars by both drivers and passengers is being enforced in an ongoing campaign against tobacco and alcohol. 

The new regulation includes fines of up to €24 for anyone the police find smoking in a car, starting with Istanbul. Surveillance cameras have been installed to record the licence plates of cars carrying offenders in the city.

Turkey’s Interior Ministry said in the first hours of the ban, more than 5,000 fines were issued.

Erdogan’s increasingly dictatorial approach to his critics, economic mismanagement and seeming refusal to change his approach has forced the splits which could endanger Erdogan’s 17-year political dominance.

The AKP alliance won 52.6 per cent of the vote in regional elections in March and a fragmentation in that support could open the door to the growing opposition.

“Every vote they can collect can change the balance of power,” said pollster Ibrahim Uslu. “For that reason, these new parties are the most important dynamic in Turkish politics.”

Few of the allies who formed the AKP with Erdogan in 2001 are still working with him. 

The rise of Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, who became finance minister in 2018, has led to the growth of a powerful faction. 

And after a heavy interest rate cut from Turkey’s barely independent central bank, analysts warned Erdogan could find himself facing another battle of wills with financial markets within months.

The 41-year-old son-in-law has clashed with the interior minister Suleyman Soylu and justice minister Abdulhamit Gul. 

Albayrak is increasingly seen as a corrosive influence in the AKP with powers that extend beyond the finance ministry. 

Defeat in regional elections this year has triggered the split following a currency crisis last year as pacts between opposition parties removed AKP control of the major cities. 

During 2018, the Turkish lira fell almost 30 per cent against the US dollar with many families struggling with inflation and rising unemployment as Turkey entered its first recession in a decade.

 

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been increasingly dictatorial since the botched 2016 coup. Picture credit: Wikimedia 

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