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Erdogan at a political rally today. Photo: Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Earlier this spring, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a big bet on timing — moving up his country’s general elections by 16 months to June 24, he reasoned, would make it easier to lock in a fresh mandate before a slowing economy and growing opposition complicated things.  

Why it matters: Given his broad influence over the media and the courts, as well as the emergency decrees that he’s used since a failed 2016 coup to silence or marginalize opposition figures, Erdogan and his AKP party, who’ve been in power since 2003, are still the electoral favorites. But this election’s not quite the shoo-in that it might once have seemed.

For one thing, Erdogan’s policies have recently thrown the Turkish currency into a tailspin that has raised questions about his ability to continue delivering economic growth.

  • The international creditors who’ve helped fuel Turkey’s economic boom don’t like the country’s rising inflation. But the central bank has long been under pressure from Erdogan to keep interest rates low to benefit the small businesses that make up a key part of his political base. Investors’ patience for Erdogan’s meddling has started to fray recently.  

At the same time, Turkey’s beleaguered opposition has been surprisingly unified.

  • Large and small parties have joined together to increase their chances of gaining seats in parliament, and the leading presidential challengers, the fiery nationalist Meral Aksener and Muharrem Ince, a largely secular politician of humble origins who has made inroads with Erdogan’s base, have pledged to support each other if either makes it to a second round against Erdogan. That could pose a stiff challenge for him.

The bigger picture: Over the past year, there have been several cases when world leaders tried to time elections to their advantage, only to see things blow up in their faces — we’ve got Malaysia’s Najib Razak, Britain’s Theresa May, and Italy’s Matteo Renzi on line two. While Turkey’s strongman Erdogan is still in a much more commanding position than most, June 24 can’t come soon enough. ​

Go deeper: The year of the strongman.

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Go deeper

Scoop: FDA chief called to West Wing

Stephen Hahn. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has summoned FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn to the West Wing for a 9:30am meeting Tuesday to explain why he hasn't moved faster to approve the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, two senior administration officials told Axios.

Why it matters: The meeting is shaping up to be tense, with Hahn using what the White House will likely view as kamikaze language in a preemptive statement to Axios: "Let me be clear — our career scientists have to make the decision and they will take the time that’s needed to make the right call on this important decision."

Scoop: Schumer's regrets

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images   

Chuck Schumer told party donors during recent calls that the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the fact that Cal Cunningham "couldn't keep his zipper up" crushed Democrats' chances of regaining the Senate, sources with direct knowledge of the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Democrats are hoping for a 50-50 split by winning two upcoming special elections in Georgia. But their best chance for an outright Senate majority ended when Cunningham lost in North Carolina and Sen. Susan Collins won in Maine.

Trump's coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas resigns

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Scott Atlas, a controversial member of the White House coronavirus task force, handed in his resignation on Monday, according to three administration officials who discussed Atlas' resignation with Axios.

Why it matters: President Trump brought in Atlas as a counterpoint to NIAID director Anthony Fauci, whose warnings about the pandemic were dismissed by the Trump administration. With Trump now fixated on election fraud conspiracy theories, Atlas' detail comes to a natural end.