Ex-Turkish minister Meral Aksener launches new party

Meral Aksener, ex-interior minister, unveils centrist Good Party and calls for change in Turkey's political climate.

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    Meral Aksener, a prominent right-wing political figure and a former interior minister, announced the founding of her Good Party in a gathering in Ankara [Reuters]
    Meral Aksener, a prominent right-wing political figure and a former interior minister, announced the founding of her Good Party in a gathering in Ankara [Reuters]

    Using "Turkey will be good" as its slogan and a bright sun as its logo, ex-Turkish minister Meral Aksener has launched a new political party with a promise to shake up the country's politics.

    "Turkey and its people are tired, the state is worn down and public order is unravelling," Aksener told hundreds of enthusiastic supporters at the founding event of the Good (Iyi) Party in the capital, Ankara, on Wednesday.

    "There is no other way [for Turkey] than a change in the political climate," said the 61-year-old, a prominent right-wing politician and former interior minister.

    The party, which has adopted a centre-right platform, has been backed by five members of Turkey's 550-seat parliament, as well as other well-known public figures named in its constituent structure.

    It lists pluralism, democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech and nationalist values as some of its founding principles

    "Democracy is under threat and the government's justice is above all else," said Aksener, in an attack against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    "The primary quality of the state should be fairness for its own people," she added, criticising the government for "eradicating" state balances.

    In response to supporters chanting to her, "Prime minister," Aksener said, "I will be president."

    Rallied for 'No' in referendum

    Aksener rallied against constitutional changes narrowly passed in a referendum last April, which changed Turkey's parliamentary system to an executive presidency. 

    Under the changes, the person who will be elected as president in 2019 will have new powers to appoint vice presidents, ministers, high-level officials and senior judges. The president will also be able to dissolve parliament, issue executive decrees and impose states of emergency.

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    Yusuf Halacoglu, one of the five Good Party MPs, told Al Jazeera that the new political force will fight to restore the separation of powers.

    "Turkey needs a democracy ruled by law. It should not be ruled by a single overpowered person. And we are going to fight for that," Halacoglu told Al Jazeera.

    "We seek to return Turkey to parliamentary democracy that has been dissolved by the recent constitutional changes," he said. 

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    "We will uphold human rights through our own will, not because it is demanded by Europe or any other foreign power," added Halacoglu.

    Erdogan's AK Party won nearly 50 percent of the vote in the last parliamentary election in 2015, almost twice that of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).

    For more than a year, the Turkish government has been carrying out detentions and purges of tens of thousands of people in the wake of a failed coup attempt in July 2016. 

    Local and international rights groups have accused the government of using the coup attempt as a pretext to silence opposition in the country.

    The government has said that the purges and detentions are aimed to remove supporters of Fethullah Gulen - a US-based, self-exiled religious leader accused by Ankara of orchestrating the attempted coup - from state institutions and other parts of society.

    'Unifying discourse'

    Last year, Aksener was expelled from the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), along with some other senior members, after an unsuccessful bid to remove its leader, Devlet Bahceli.

    Months later, Bahceli's support helped Erdogan to win the referendum on the constitutional changes.

    Taha Akyol, a Turkish political analyst and writer, said that the programme of the new party could potentially appeal to a large number of voters.

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    "There is a diverse group of people who are not happy with the parties in the parliament. These voters have right, left and liberal tendencies," he told Al Jazeera. 

    "The Good Party can be successful if it can get their support with a unifying discourse and promote the rule of law and democracy - the main concepts pursued by these disillusioned voters," he said.

    "Aksener's speech and the party's programme is in line with this, so in theory, the party can find a voter base for itself. Its success will be in line with its performance."

    Ibrahim Uslu, director of the ANAR polling company in Turkey, said in a recent interview that 30 percent of voters in the country are not loyal to their parties.

    Four of the five Good Party MPs were former members of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

    The other is a former member of the CHP.

    The new party's constituent members also include Durmus Yilmaz, a former central bank governor, and Koray Aydin, a former public works and housing minister.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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