Anger at Erdogan over the difficult economic conditions in Turkey

The anger sweeping along highways linking the humble hometown of Turkey’s leader and his plush lodgings in Ankara’s presidential palace is flashing a code red warning for Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Tea growers, fishermen, small retailers, café staff and gas-station attendants — some of the typically low-paid, laboring Turks who have formed the backbone of Erdogan’s support over his two decades atop Turkish politics — are giving up on the ruling party as the cost of living surges. 

An 800-kilometer (500-mile) journey this month along Turkey’s Black Sea coast and into its conservative hinterland showed how many are losing faith. Opposition parties control the major cities, meaning Erdogan and his AK Party must hold traditional bastions to stay in power at 2023 elections. 

They have 18 months to win round disillusioned and wavering voters like Sahap Kardesler.

Emerging from a butcher shop in Iyidere, the 66-year-old pensioner had used credit to buy enough meat for several months. “I might not be able to afford it later,” he explained. “It’s not even clear what the price will be in an hour.”

Turkey’s Conservative Hinterlands

A journey from the capital to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hometown shows traditional bastions are not guaranteed in 2023 elections

His popularity waning amid pandemic-induced hardship, Erdogan has forced Turkey into a high-risk economic experiment. He’s leaned on the central bank to slash the cost of borrowing in search of the sunlit uplands of greater investment and better jobs, and lashed out at the power wielded by global finance. 

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