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Despite AKP sputtering, support grows for Erdogan rival

Turkish nationalist Meral Aksener is emerging as a real threat to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as talk swirls about the formation of her new centrist party.

Meral Aksener, a Turkish nationalist who is being touted as a possible challenger to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has defined the contours of the battleground where she will wage her campaign: the center.

One of her top lieutenants, Koray Aydin, announced in a television program aired last night that the party she is planning to launch before year-end will likely be christened the “Center Democratic Party.” This is the clearest signal yet that the combative former interior minister will not rely on a strictly nationalist platform. Following in the footsteps of Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the late Turgut Ozal and his Motherland Party of the 1980s, Aksener will seek to assemble assorted conservatives, nationalists and disgruntled Islamists around the political center.

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