Country’s president, strongly supported by conservatives, Islamists and nationalists, is accumulating authority, purging thousands accused of involvement in a failed July coup, and ruling by decree
.. A song titled the “Erdogan March” lauds what it calls the lion-hearted protector of the global Muslim community, and became aTwitter top trend in Turkey.
.. Mr. Erdogan delivers daily hourlong speeches, which television stations that haven’t been shut down uniformly broadcast live
..The murder of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey on Dec. 19 capped 10 days of violence, including bombings that killed at least 58 people—volatility that only strengthens Mr. Erdogan’s push for expanded powers.
.. His unfolding efforts to reshape Turkey place Mr. Erdogan in the vanguard of illiberal populism personified by leaders such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro.
.. Mr. Erdogan’s movement has been a long campaign against a secular elite installed early last century by Turkish independence hero Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and kept in power by the military.
.. His movement, sometimes called Erdoganismo, is an Islamist-infused cocktail of winner-take-all democracy, nationalism and nostalgia for the past glories of this onetime center of the Ottoman Empire. Those sidelined include the once-dominant secular and West-leaning intelligentsia, along with ethnic and religious minorities.
.. The secret to the power grab is a political base of religious Sunni Muslims who have seen their incomes rise, their formerly circumscribed rights restored, and their pride enhanced by Mr. Erdogan’s policies.
.. Supporters say Mr. Erdogan, who has marshaled nine AKP election victories since 2002, has shown himself a benevolent and capable leader. Dismissing the idea he is autocratic, they credit his skill at developing trust and credibility across society.
.. The narrative is transparent—Erdogan is on a constant march toward absolute power
.. Then his government ousted scores of pro-Kurdish mayors on terrorism charges.
.. Party co-founders have been sidelined or silenced, their names erased from AKP literature.
.. His party swept to power in 2002 after courting European and U.S. policy makers enamored by the thought of an Islamist democratic party in the mold of Christian Democrats like Germany’s.
.. He framed protesters as elitists or foreign agents.
.. He should be handed as much power as he needs, Mr. Toraman in Sivas said, because “he’s restoring Turkey’s historic greatness.”
.. Heartland supporters say outsiders can’t imagine how dramatically Mr. Erdogan’s rule has improved life for Turks once limited by an immutable class system. Seeking treatment for illness was a challenge. Families couldn’t afford to send children to school. Conservative men tell of being ousted from the staunchly secularist military because of their piety.
.. Mr. Erdogan’s party revoked the headscarf law, and her future widened. Now, as she finishes a master’s degree in optical engineering, Ms. Subutay is angling for a coveted job with a defense contractor, Aselsan, which has opened an optics factory in Sivas. Until recently, it would have been impossible for a headscarfed woman.
.. Mr. Erdogan’s appeal also owes in part to a Teflon ability to deflect bad press.
.. The president’s lifestyle has moved beyond comfortable to opulent. He lives in an 1,100-room palace with 1,800 employees.
.. Mr. Erdogan started invoking the phrase “national will” to defend his policies, which primarily cater to his Islamist supporters. Mr. Erdogan has ignored pleas from minorities in favor of rhetoric that galvanizes nationalist feeling and the Sunni majority.
In last year’s elections, however, the HDP doubled its previous showing and won 13%. That was enough to deny Mr. Erdogan’s party a ruling majority in parliament.
Mr. Erdogan then accused the HDP of supporting terrorism. He revived scorched-earth tactics against Kurdish insurgents. He froze the peace talks and called snap elections. With voters spooked by rising violence and insecurity, the AKP was propelled back to majority control of parliament.