ISTANBUL - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could be facing his biggest political challenge, with the resignation of his former economic czar Ali Babacan threatening to split his ruling AKP Party. Party discontent is escalating amidst economic malaise and deteriorating human rights.
"Under the current conditions, Turkey needs a brand-new vision for its future," Babacan said Monday upon resigning. "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."
New political party
Babacan is expected to launch a new political party as early as September. A founding member of AKP, Babacan served as foreign and economy minister in the early years of the party's rule. He is widely credited with presiding over Turkey's economic transformation with unparalleled record growth.
"We can normalize the society, end the polarization within society," said Osman Can, a former national AKP board member, who now supports Babacan's movement. "We can normalize relations with the United States and Europe. We can also be a hope for the region. This is why I am hopeful, for Babacan lives as a conservative but his thinking is liberal."
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