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The Former Physics Teacher Who's Energized Turkey's Opposition

  • Muharrem Ince has rattled Erdogan and held rallies of millions
  • Ince is presumptive candidate should vote go to a second round
Muharrem Ince during his last pre-election rally on Jun 23.
Muharrem Ince during his last pre-election rally on Jun 23.Photographer: Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg

Regardless of what happens in Turkey’s elections on Sunday, a former physics teacher has done what many thought was impossible: breathe some life into Turkey’s opposition.

Muharrem Ince emerged as a surprise threat to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: energizing supporters across the political spectrum, rallying millions in Turkey’s cities, and putting the incumbent on the defensive. If nothing else, his rise is a balm to the secularist Republican People’s Party, or CHP, which was founded in 1919 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and has suffered a long string of defeats under its mild-mannered leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, as Erdogan tightened his grip.