Turkey’s Erdoğan calls for ruling party unity as breakaway parties close in

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday called for unity among members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) against attempts to form breakaway parties, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

"Our only expectation is that we should not give the slightest opportunity to those who want to divide us," Erdoğan said during a Justice and Development Party (AKP) congress in the western city of Bursa.

After the AKP suffered a string of defeats in local elections in March this year, former senior politicians from the party stepped up efforts to form new political movements.

Ali Babacan, a former deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, and Ahmet Davutoğlu, who served as prime minister between 2014 and 2016, are both set to launch new political parties.

Erdoğan also called on party members to maximise their efforts to ensure that the AKP will stay strong in Bursa, an industrialised city that is among the country’s largest.

The AKP has lost control of five Turkey’s most populous provinces in this year’s local elections, including the capital of Ankara and the country's economic hub Istanbul, dealing a blow to Erdoğan's 16-year rule. However, it hung on to Bursa with a small margin in the vote.

Turkey transitioned from a parliamentary to an executive presidential system after national elections in June 2018. With the required vote for the country’s top position raised to 50 percent plus one under the new system, new political parties could play a prominent role in the outcome of the next presidential elections in 2023.