Turkey’s Autocratic President, Praised by Trump, Claims Election Victory

But the opposition is contesting the provisional results.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Donald Trump shake hands in September 2017 in New York.Shealah Craighead/Zuma

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Turkey’s autocratic president is claiming victory in the country’s contentious election on Sunday. Recep Tayyip Erdogan is up by more than 20 points, according to a state-run agency, with 97 percent of the vote counted, although the opposition claims that most ballot boxes have yet to be opened. Erdogan, who has been president since 2014 and Turkey’s de facto leader since 2002, has been widely accused of human rights abuses, but that hasn’t stopped President Donald Trump from praising him as a strong leader.

The Turkish leader has arrested tens of thousands of dissenters on questionable charges, targeted teachers, and jailed more journalists than any other leader in the world.

Last year, after Turkish voters approved a referendum to augment Erdogan’s powers that critics said would erode democratic norms in the country, Trump called the strongman to congratulate him on his victory. The following month, Erdogan came to Washington to talk terrorism with Trump, and Erdogan’s security detail attacked protesters at the Turkish embassy in DC.

A few months later, in September, the Turkish president attended a reception in his honor in New York City. His security detail once again clashed violently with protesters, this time in Times Square. Hours later, Trump heaped praise on Erdogan. “He’s running a very difficult part of the world,” Trump said. “He’s involved very, very strongly and, frankly, he’s getting very high marks.”

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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