Babacan may announce new Turkish party this week, columnist says

Ali Babacan, a former deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, will most likely announce the establishment of a new political party this weekend, Abdülkadir Selvi, a columnist known for his sources close to the ruling party, wrote on Tuesday.

Babacan, a founding member of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who resigned from the party in July, and a group of former AKP politicians are expected to complete efforts for the new party this week, or in February at the latest, Selvi said.

"Its name, logo, programme and bylaw are ready. The headquarters is under renovation," he said.

Former AKP heavyweights, such as former Interior Minister Beşir Atalay, former Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin and former Science, Industry and Technology Minister Nihat Ergün were among the founders of the new party, Selvi said.

Widely praised for successfully steering Turkey’s economy during the first decade of AKP rule, Babacan has served as chief negotiator for EU accession and is known for favouring good relations with the West.

Babacan stepped up efforts to establish a new political party after the AKP’s weak showing at March local elections when it lost five of Turkey's largest provinces.

Babacan’s party aims to target not only the AKP’s support base, but also the larger centre constituency in Turkey, with a liberal agenda, Selvi said.