It was 1996. I was fifteen years old, living in my native city of Istanbul and watching television. My ears perked up at a surprisingly frank remark by a politician. During a talk show, the mayor of Istanbul compared democracy to a streetcar: “You ride it until you get to your destination,” he said, “and then you step off.” It took more than two decades, but the mayor himself would make good on this prediction. His name was Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Today he is the president of Turkey—a country that has stepped off the streetcar of democracy under his leadership....
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