The Debate

Erdogan fatigue? Turkish president suffers setbacks in local elections

Is it a case of Erdogan fatigue? Turkey's president suffered a rare electoral setback in local elections where even though his name wasn't on the ballot, Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the race into a referendum about himself. Erdogan was tirelessly out on the campaign trail and yet his party lost the capital Ankara and is locked in a dogfight to keep control of city hall in the president's native Istanbul.


The results appear to indicate a growing rift between major cities and the rest of the country, with Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK Party consolidating its lock on power in the Anatolian heartland and losing ground in urban areas to the moderate opposition. Meanwhile, in the southeast, the Kurdish-rooted HDP regained towns lost by decree in the crackdown on dissent that followed a failed coup in 2016.

It's not only about the tightening of the screws. Erdogan blames a US-fomented plot for the lira's slide and near-20 percent inflation but many citizens aren't buying it. And with an economy in the throes of its first recession in a decade, what's next for Turkey and a democracy where most of the power has been consolidated in one man's hands?

Produced by Charles WENTE, Ingri BERGO and James VASINA.

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