Tur­key’s pres­i­dent is a dic­ta­tor.

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK -

Since a failed coup d’etat last July, Er­do­gan has over­seen an un­prece­dented purge of about 200,000 peo­ple, from po­lice of­fi­cers to aca­demics to bu­reau­crats. News out­lets such as Der Spiegel, the In­de­pen­dent, the Guardian, the Tele­graph, Newsweek, the Huff­in­g­ton Post and the New Yorker have all called Er­do­gan a dic­ta­tor. He has even em­braced the la­bel: “If the West calls some­one a dic­ta­tor,” he said, “in my view that is a good thing.”

Still, Er­do­gan — who served as prime min­is­ter from 2003 un­til 2014, when he be­came head of state — has a more com­pli­cated relationship with Turk­ish cit­i­zens than tin-pot dic­ta­tors like former Tunisian pres­i­dent Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali or Syria’s Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad. The AK Party has pre­vailed in 10 con­sec­u­tive elec­tions be­cause Er­do­gan has de­liv­ered. Turks are wealth­ier, health­ier and more mo­bile than ever be­fore. Er­do­gan has made it pos­si­ble for Turks to ex­plore their re­li­gious iden­ti­ties in ways they were never per­mit­ted un­der pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments. For his sup­port­ers, his time in of­fice rep­re­sents a rev­o­lu­tion in rights and per­sonal lib­er­ties. Turk­ish women are now free to wear the hi­jab in places where it was pre­vi­ously banned; it is now safe for pi­ous Turks to par­tic­i­pate in pol­i­tics. If elec­tion re­sults are

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