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5/16/15

Turkey: Turks Are Wondering if Their President Is Insane

President Erdogan, who is supposed to be above politics, is up to his eyeballs in a campaign to win constitutional changes that give him unprecedented power. 

It’s less than four weeks to go before parliamentary elections in Turkey on June 7, and it looks like President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is panicking. Or worse.

A popular refrain among his political opponents, and on the street, is that Erdogan has lost his marbles and is driven by an insatiable appetite for power. Ever since he moved into a lavish 1,100-room palace in Ankara last year, Erdogan has been accused of succumbing to an out-of-control urge for grandeur.

Kurdish politician Abdullah Zeydan says the president “thinks he is a sultan.” Meral Aksener, a nationalist politician and deputy speaker of parliament, claims Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was telling people behind closed doors that Erdogan “is out of his mind.”

“Obviously, there is panic,” said Yavuz Baydar, a respected journalist.

At a minimum there is frustration for the president of this country with huge strategic importance, which has the second largest army in NATO and borders Iran, Iraq and Syria or, if you will, the Islamic State.

Over the course of 12 years in power, first as prime minister and since last year as president, Erdogan has overseen unprecedented economic stability and growth in Turkey, trimmed the power of the military, with its long history of coups and its reputation as “the deep state,” and entered into an important dialogue with Kurdish politicians and even Kurdish rebels.

But polls say Erdogan, 61, will probably fail to get the majority he wants to push through sweeping constitutional changes to give himself unlimited but as yet unspecified power as president.

The economy has grown sluggish of late, unemployment is on the rise, and the political opposition is resurgent, all of which spells trouble for Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Some polls suggest the AKP could even lose its majority in parliament.

Read more: Turks Are Wondering if Their President Is Insane - The Daily Beast

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