In December 2002 on the White Home, President George W. Bush greeted an up-and-coming politician from Turkey whose newly fashioned get together had simply received a shocking majority in parliament.
“Welcome to the house of considered one of your nation’s greatest pals and allies,” Mr. Bush informed the politician, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “You’re a strategic ally and buddy of the USA.”
Two months later, Mr. Erdogan grew to become prime minister, rocketing him to the highest of Turkey’s political system and kicking off his two-decade tenure as his nation’s strongest determine.
Turkey’s election on Sunday is in some ways a referendum on the dramatic adjustments that Mr. Erdogan has introduced in 11 years as prime minister and 9 as president. As soon as a brand new political power promising to wash up corruption, increase the economic system and strengthen ties with the West, he’s now an almost omnipotent chief, blamed for Turkey’s sinking foreign money and criticized for undermining democracy.
Mr. Erdogan, 69, grew up poor in a tricky neighborhood in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest metropolis, the place his father was a ferry captain. He studied at Islamic faculties normally supposed for future clerics however went into politics and received a four-year time period as Istanbul’s mayor in 1994. Residents credited him with cleansing up the traditional, messy metropolis.
In 1997, he was faraway from workplace and sentenced to 10 months in jail for inciting violence after he recited an Islamist poem at a rally. He ended up serving solely 4 months however obtained an extended ban from politics.
When his Justice and Improvement Occasion, which he had helped discovered, received its surprising parliamentary majority in 2002, it was the strongest displaying to this point by an Islamist political group in Turkey’s staunchly secular political system. The following 12 months, Mr. Erdogan’s political ban ended and he grew to become prime minister.
For a couple of decade, he and his get together delivered on their guarantees of excellent governance and financial progress. Turkey’s gross home product greater than tripled, lifting thousands and thousands out of poverty, and new airports, hospitals, highways and bridges sprung up throughout the nation.
Internationally, Mr. Erdogan was lauded as an Islamist and pro-business democrat who might function a bridge between the West and the Muslim world.
However challenges arose. In 2013, protests in opposition to a building mission Mr. Erdogan had backed on the location of an Istanbul park escalated into mass anti-government demonstrations. Fearing instability, some overseas traders started withdrawing their capital.
In 2016, two years after he grew to become president, Mr. Erdogan survived a coup try that included a failed effort to kidnap him from a seaside resort. He responded by additional centralizing energy and sidelining critics — purging tens of hundreds from the judiciary and state paperwork and changing a lot of them with loyalists, proscribing civil liberties and growing his affect over the information media.
In 2017, he pushed for a constitutional referendum that ended Turkey’s parliamentary system and transferred a lot of the state’s energy to the president, that means him.
All alongside, he and his get together remained formidable on the poll field, and used their electoral mandate to advertise a religiously conservative outlook. Mr. Erdogan expanded Islamic training and loosened rules aimed toward guaranteeing a secular state, together with lifting a ban on head scarves for ladies in authorities jobs.
A lot of his voters, who tended to be rural, religious and dealing class, seemed to him as their defender from a secular elite that they felt seemed down on them.
However Mr. Erdogan’s honeymoon with the West, particularly the USA, didn’t final. He accused Washington of complicity within the tried coup as a result of the cleric he accused of cooking up the plot lives in Pennsylvania, an accusation the cleric denies.
After Mr. Bush, Presidents Obama and Trump each welcomed Mr. Erdogan within the White Home, however President Biden has not. And on Saturday, the final day of campaigning, Mr. Erdogan accused Mr. Biden of working with Turkey’s political opposition to unseat him.