After Premature Birth Amid Turkey’s Coronavirus Frenzy, Babacan’s Party Seeks to Reboot Political Fortunes

Erdogan’s former economy Czar defected with a breakaway party. But his boldest gamble initially became a victim of coronavirus frenzy. He now seeks a recoup with a media blitz.

Abdullah Ayasun
18 min readJun 21, 2020
Ali Babacan and founding members of the new DEVA Party pose for a photograph during the party’s launch this March. (Photo: social media)


After a yearlong, protracted preparation in a quest for the maximum impact for his new party’s launch, former Economy Minister Ali Babacan finally took that decisive final step in March, but to a little effect. His much-anticipated bid initially fell victim to Turkey’s coronavirus frenzy as the country declared a national war against the global pandemic. As a consequence, the DEVA (Democracy and Progress) Party, whose initials invoke the meaning of ‘remedy,’ suffered a premature birth due to ill-chosen timing amid a state of emergency against a fatal enemy, which has so far claimed 4,927 lives across Turkey.

The entire public debate, for the moment, has been consumed by the virus as it emerged as the number one priority of authorities to thwart its deadly contagion and to mitigate its profound impact on the economy amid reopening of most sectors in May. The momentum Babacan normally expected had not materialized, at least not in the first weeks of his initiative. The failure to generate enthusiasm among a populace menaced by the twin encroachment of a deadly virus and the punishing impact of a two-month lockdown on their lifelines led some observers to forsake the young politician as a contender against Erdogan.

A recent survey attests to the lackluster start of the party, which slightly garners little more than 2 percent of the votes across the country if a snap election takes place today. What the survey reveals is that, although the ruling AKP suffers a dramatic decline in its votes, voters still plump for mainstream parties, not new ones. While it means that the prospect of mass defections to the parties formed by Davutoglu and Babacan remains considerably low at the moment, it still emphasizes a fundamental role they play: stealing votes away from Erdogan’s party. But this matters little given that the…



Abdullah Ayasun

New York-based journalist and writer. Columbia School of Journalism. 2023 White House Correspondents' Association Scholar. Twitter: @abyasun