Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu: 'The Edsel' of Turkish politics

Published 15.07.2014 01:14

The Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu project that god-knows-who imposed on the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), inevitably brings up similar projects in the nation's political and industrial history. Did not, for instance, the late Bülent Ecevit develop a similar project called the Köykent (village-city) project? Turan Günes jokingly dubbed it the Southwesterly-Northeasterly (Lodos-Poyraz) project to make the point that opposite winds blowing together, like Ecevit's plans, were simply impossible. Ecevit's final project was to form a grand coalition to get Ahmet Necdet Sezer elected to the presidency.

When Sezer, who assumed the position in May 2000, began to veto the Ecevit government's legislation, the late prime minister quickly turned against his creation. "The president assumes the role of the Constitutional Court. The cabinet is concerned about his unwillingness to engage in dialogue. The nation's economic stability is under threat," Ecevit declared.

The veto project

The confrontation between President Sezer and Prime Minister Ecevit during the National Security Council summit on February 19, 2001 - when Sezer famously threw a copy of the Constitution at Ecevit to unleash an economic crisis - went down in history as "Black Wednesday."

During his tenure, the president vetoed a total of 67 bills, 22 cabinet resolutions and 729 joint decrees. Salih Tuna, a columnist for Yeni Safak daily, perfectly described how closely the Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu project resembles the Köykent project, now a symbol of the coexistence of opposite forces:" Helplessly, he feels compelled to meet the needs of his sponsors [and] finds himself at once part of the Left and the Right, pro-Atatürk and pro-Ottoman, progressive and reactionary, with a hint of pro-Turkish and pro-Kurdish. What an uncanny situation."

The "parallel state" project

In this part of the world, though, similar projects are constantly in the making. Isn't one of the most controversial efforts in recent years the Gülen organization's "parallel state" project? Presenting itself as a religious community, this project and its imam, with all sorts of mundane interests, went so far as to suggest that the Prophet Muhammad ordered his disciples "to double the tweets." Surely, such ill-fated fiascos occasionally come from bright minds in other countries as well. Recalling that former U.S. President George W. Bush declared victory in Iraq in 2003; take a look at where the Iraq project has ended up years later.

Lessons not learned

In industrial history, too, we witness textbook fiascos such as the Edsel project. In the 1960s, Ford Motor Company executives introduced their brand new automobile, the Edsel, with the hope of competing with General Motors, the company's chief competitor. So much depended on the Edsel that Ford devoted all of its manufacturing capacity to the new model - except, consumers did not show a great deal of interest in the car, which pushed the company to the brink of bankruptcy.

Learning from the Edsel disaster, Ford executives proceeded to correctly identify consumer expectations and made up for their losses with the legendary Mustang. The masterminds of ill-fated projects, then, still have a chance to perform better in the future considering that they learn from their mistakes. One thing we know for sure, though, is that the people who brought you the Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu project have a genuine talent for not learning from anything.

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