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Erdogan draws huge crowds, but needs more than base to win

Critics say Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using survival and terrorism rhetoric to whip up support and distract from the economy, hoping that voters will be drawn by appeals to their political identity.
Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gather ahead of a rally for the upcoming local elections, in Istanbul, Turkey March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RC1436F31AD0

ANKARA, Turkey — The huge crowd had been standing in the sun for more than an hour by the time the president took the stage on Saturday. The mayoral candidate from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had lectured them on his plans to no applause. They had heard the president’s principal ally, Devlet Bahceli, condemn the opposition in the tone of a snarling dog and responded with a few whistles and cheers.

But when Recep Tayyip Erdogan took the microphone, wearing a black suit and a yellow Ankara football scarf, the crowd roared and waved their red-and-white Turkish flags. The noise was milder than the applause he got at his election rally here last June, but he roused the crowd of supporters who came to see him.

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