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WP: Turkey’s prime minister acts desperately to hold onto his power


The Washington Post’s editorial board trashed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s downward authoritarian spiral.

The truth is that Mr. Erdogan is engaged in an ruthless campaign to maintain his hold on power — a campaign that is dangerous to opponents both at home and abroad. With local elections scheduled for March 30 and a presidential election for later this year, the Turkish leader is attempting to reverse his declining political fortunes with crude measures of force. The casualties are not just the assets of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who deserves no sympathy, but also a Turkish democratic system that was once considered a potential model for the Arab Middle East.

That Twitter attack prompted a round of criticism from European governments and the Obama administration, which once regarded Mr. Erdogan as a favored White House friend and had been conspicuously silent about his abuses. But the Turkish leader, who had already embraced anti-American demagoguery, is unlikely to pull out of his downward authoritarian spiral. It will be up to Turks to rescue their democracy through their votes in the upcoming elections and, if that fails, by organizing peaceful resistance. As the Twitter episode has demonstrated, it is easier for Mr. Erdogan to order a plane shot down than to silence an engaged and mobilized citizenry.