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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan salutes his ruling party members before he announced he is running for president, Ankara, Turkey, July 1, 2014 (AP photo by Umit Bektas, Pool).

Turkey’s Schizophrenic Opposition Unlikely to Defeat Erdogan and Unified AKP

Friday, July 18, 2014

As Turkey prepares for its first direct presidential election, its two main secular opposition parties, the People’s Republican Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), have jointly nominated Ekmelledin Ihsanoglu, the former secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as their candidate. Ihsanoglu, a religious conservative, will run against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the heavy favorite from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), and Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chair of the People’s Democratic Party, a political party with links to the Kurdish-dominated Peace and Democracy Party.

Ihsanoglu appears to have been chosen to compete with Erdogan in Turkey’s more conservative Anatolian districts, rather than appeal solely to the CHP’s more secular strongholds on the Aegean coast. The choice suggests that both opposition parties recognize how the conservative, religious majority of Turkey’s electorate has bristled under many of Turkey’s illiberal secular laws. ...

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