Since Turkey’s presidential election in May, western analysts have held out hope that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will moderate his strongman style of rule. Feeding their optimism are several steps Erdoğan has taken, including appointing market-friendly technocrats to his economic team, replacing the hardline interior minister, dialling down anti-western rhetoric and voicing support for Sweden’s Nato membership. All these moves, however, are aimed at strengthening Erdoğan’s one-man rule, and the west is helping him. 

Erdoğan’s cabinet reshuffle has brought in technocrats but also sidelined potential challengers — above all, Süleyman Soylu, a fiercely nationalistic, anti-western former interior minister once seen as the regime’s “second man”. After the election, Erdoğan moved him out and began to cleanse Turkey’s bureaucracy of Soylu loyalists.

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