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Turkey’s Resilient Autocrat
Also published in Foreign Affairs
A closer look at how the levers of state—and powerful friends—could help Erdogan win his toughest election yet.
In late February, after a huge earthquake devastated a large swath of his country, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan faced one of the greatest challenges of his political career. After 20 years in power, and with an election just three months away, he was poised to lose control of Turkey. Things look different now. Using his broad influence over the media, he has effectively limited public debate of the earthquake, shifting the domestic discussion to Turkey’s industrial and military achievements under him. Meanwhile, a third-party candidate has entered the race, providing him with additional means to fracture the opposition. And a government reform to the way Parliament apportions seats could give his party a considerable advantage in the coming vote. As the election approaches, it now seems likely that Erdogan may at least be able to force a runoff...