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Keep Calm, Erdogan

Why the Prime Minister Has Nothing to Fear

A demonstrator waves a flag as he sits on a monument during a protest against Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AKP in central Ankara, 2013. (Umit Bektas / Courtesy Reuters)

When Recep Tayyip Erdogan was mayor of Istanbul in the mid-1990s, he did what successful big city mayors do -- he made life a little easier for the millions of residents of his beautiful, maddening megalopolis. Erdogan cleaned up the garbage in the streets, unknotted traffic, and literally cleared the air by introducing environmentally friendlier public transportation. Always one for grand ambitions, during his tenure at City Hall the future prime minister made a now often repeated statement to a journalist from the daily Milliyet, “Democracy,” he declared, “is like a tram. You ride it until you arrive at your destination, then you step off.”

These stories go a long way toward explaining the demonstrations against Turkey’s

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