Turkish ex-pm launches new party and pledges to return to parliamentary democracy

Former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who started a dissident party to compete with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Friday pledged to return to parliamentary democracy and expand rights and freedoms.

Davutoglu, 60, made the pledge a day after officially creating the “The Future Party” breakaway.

A new presidential system, which came into effect last year and gave Erdogan vast powers, resulted in “a fall in democratic standards,” Davutoglu said at a meeting where he presented his party’s manifesto and the founding members.

“We advocate a parliamentary system free from all kinds of tutelage,” he said.

Standing under a large banner depicting the revered founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Davutoglu said Thursday: “As a party, we reject a style of politics where there is a cult of leader and passive staff.

Davutoglu did not name Erdogan by name during his nearly hour-long speech, but criticized the broad powers given to the presidency under last year’s constitutional changes.

The new party is the first of the two dissident parties to be founded by former Erdogan allies amid reports of discontent within the ruling party over his authoritarian style of government.

Ali Babacan, former Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Economy, also announced plans for a new party.

The emergence of parties led by Erdogan’s allies turned rivals comes as Erdogan’s government grapples with an economic downturn and high unemployment. His ruling Justice and Development Party, known as the AK Party, lost control of the main cities of Istanbul and Ankara in this year’s municipal elections.

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