In December 2002 at the White House, President George W. Bush greeted an up-and-coming politician from Turkey whose newly formed party had just won a surprising majority in parliament.
“Welcome to the home of one of your country’s best friends and allies,” Mr. Bush told the politician, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “You are a strategic ally and friend of the United States.”
Two months later, Mr. Erdogan became prime minister, rocketing him to the top of Turkey’s political system and kicking off his two-decade tenure as his country’s most powerful figure.
Turkey’s election on Sunday is in many ways a referendum on the dramatic changes that Mr. Erdogan has brought in 11 years as prime minister and nine as president. Once a new political force promising to clean up corruption, expand the economy and strengthen ties with the West, he is now a nearly all-powerful leader, blamed for Turkey’s sinking currency and criticized for undermining democracy.
Mr. Erdogan, 69, grew up poor in…
This article was written by The New York Times and originally published on www.nytimes.com