Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Birth of a Dictator

erdogan crowd-reuters
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears more popular than ever following the military coup earlier this year.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The turmoil in Turkey threatens to hurt the country’s economy and could complicate Ankara’s ties to its European allies.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the leader of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party, known as the AKP. He served as prime minister for more than a decade before his election as president in 2014.
    • Turkey’s leadership has accused U.S. cleric Fethullah Gülen of being behind a July 15 coup attempt.
    • Since the failed coup, Mr. Erdogan has suspended more than 60,000 civil servants from their posts and made thousands of arrests.
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    Audio

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In 1998, several years before Recep Tayyip Erdogan became Turkey’s prime minister, he offered what may well have been the best indication of how he would lead the country.

“Democracy is like a train,” he said. “When you reach your destination, you get off.”

Eighteen years later, under President Erdogan, those words resonate even more clearly. Less than a month after the failed coup against him, the Turkish leader has gone to great lengths to silence his critics.

The steps he has taken – by his own admission, a “purge” and “cleansing” of the Turkish state – have shaken Western leaders’ faith in Mr. Erdogan, and raised questions about the future of democracy and the rule of law in his country.

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