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Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the most baffling politician to emerge in the 96-year history of Turkey. He is polarizing and popular, autocratic and fatherly, calculating and listless. Erdogan’s ideology shifts every few years, and he appears to make up his road map as he goes along. He is short-tempered: he grabs cigarette packs from citizens to try to force them into quitting, scolds reporters who ask tough questions, and once walked off the stage after an angry exchange with the Israeli president at the World Economic Forum in Davos. But he can also be extremely patient. It has taken him 16 years to forge what he calls “the new Turkey,” an economically self-reliant country with a marginalized opposition and a subservient press.
This mix of anger and calm has made Erdogan increasingly successful at the ballot box. He became prime minister in 2003 after his party won 34 percent of the vote,