How Erdogan’s Troubles Are Good for Turkey


Translation does not do proper service to Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, the full name of the party headed by Turkey’s besieged Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In English, it comes out as “Justice and Development Party.” But in the country it has dominated for more than a decade, the party is known by its all-important initials, AK, two letters that form a word understood as “white,” “pure,” “clean” or, best of all, “unblemished.”

Those qualities constituted the fundamental appeal of the newly-minted party at the moment of its creation, in 2001: More than it ever was “Islamist,” AK Parti (AKP) was a populist effort in a Muslim country where staunchly secular parties just one year earlier had driven the economy deep into the ground, with the gross national product falling into negative territory and the country’s currency, the lira, losing a third of its value. What AKP…

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