Former Turkish Minister Launches Party to Challenge Erdogan
A prominent Turkish nationalist politician and former minister announced on Wednesday she was forming a new party which could pose a significant challenge to President Tayyip Erdogan in elections due within two years, Reuters reported.
Former interior minister Meral Aksener, who unsuccessfully opposed Erdogan’s drive for greater presidential powers in a referendum last April, said Turkey needed change after nearly 15 years of rule by his AK Party.
Her Iyi Parti (Good Party) is seen by many in Turkey as potentially one of the strongest challengers to Erdogan in presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 2019, but it starts out with only a fraction of the AK Party’s support.
Just five members of the 550-seat parliament have joined the new party, although pollsters say it could win over supporters of several parties including the conservative and Islamic-rooted AK Party as well as secular or nationalist groups.
“Turkey and its people are tired, the state is worn down, and public order is unraveling. There is no way other than the changing of the political atmosphere,” Aksener said at a ceremony in Ankara to mark the launch of her party.
“We are that way out, you are that way out. That road is the 80 million strong Turkish nation” she said, standing in front of the logo of her party - a yellow sun shining in a blue sky. “Our people are clearly saying they want ... a new government.”
Aksener was expelled last year from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the smallest of three opposition parties in parliament, after launching a failed bid to unseat party leader Devlet Bahceli, whose support helped Erdogan to a narrow victory in a referendum that expanded his authority.