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Bobby Ghosh

Erdogan's Political Challengers Are Getting Tougher

Topping the list are two women from both sides of the political spectrum.

Turkey’s “she-wolf” is just one of Erdogan’s new challengers. 

Turkey’s “she-wolf” is just one of Erdogan’s new challengers. 

Photographer: Adem Altan/AFP via Getty Images

For much of 2020, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan relied on foreign-policy adventurism to divert attention from Turkey’s economic crisis and his AK Party’s political travails. His aggressive forays in Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh and the Eastern Mediterranean helped overshadow the political reversals of the previous year, when the AKP lost local elections in major cities — none more embarrassing than that of Erdogan’s old stronghold of Istanbul — and a significant decline in membership.

But the strategy may have reached its limits: Neither investors nor the general public seem to be buying Erdogan’s promise of a new economic era. More generally, the president and his party seem to be losing the confidence of large political constituencies, including urbanites and young conservatives.