Follow the money
If anyone knows the ins and outs of this matter, it is Meral Aksener. I am not saying “she knows,” I am saying that “she could know” because I believe it is possible that there are factors at play that are above her paygrade.
There is no doubt that there is considerable speculation, as well as some truth, in all the explanations offered for Meral Aksener’s recent stance. Only time will tell which analyses were closest to the truth.
Today, I will present my interpretation attempting to elucidate what might have happened. My assessment is just one of many.
Of course, dealings of this nature are multifaceted, and it is probably impossible to understand the matter in its entirety. However, perhaps as a professional deformation, I am of the mind that “following the money” is the most explanatory of the various analytic dimensions of the issue — like the R squared concept that people who have taken an econometrics course in their educational life will remember.
My view is that there could be a connection between the collapse of the Table of Six and the earthquake.
The two powerful earthquakes that hit back-to-back devastated 11 of our provinces. Hatay and Adiyaman were turned to dust, and either directly or indirectly, 13 million citizens were affected by this disaster.
Though it has not even been a month since the earthquakes, wreckage removal has already begun, and tenders have been put out for this work. But these bidding processes are nothing like the usual (but when have they ever been?) as they happen entirely by invitation.
Competitive bidding might not be possible in earthquake conditions, but unfortunately, Turkey’s rap sheet is longer than many in this field and it is impossible for the worst not to come to mind.
450 THOUSAND RESIDENCES TO BE CONSTRUCTED
The issue is not just the wreckage removal.
According to Urban Planning Minister Murat Kurum’s statements, 450 thousand residences will be constructed for the earthquake victims. It is difficult to pronounce an exact amount since I cannot estimate the unit price per square meter due to the inflationary process, but excluding infrastructure costs, this is a job that will exceed twenty billion dollars at the current exchange rate.
Neither do we know how much the infrastructure expenses in the area reserved for these residences will cost.
Highways were considerably damaged and are at least partially unusable. The reconstruction of these highways will also require extensive public spending and all of these expenses will happen through tenders.
There is structural damage to airports as well, and investment will be needed to fix these.
Public buildings were also ruined; schools, hospitals, and other such structures were damaged.
The upcoming months, or even year, will be a period of significant public spending and government tenders during which money will flow to the contractors and their sector.
The largest public expenditure package in the history of the Republic is being opened.
There is no doubt that this expenditure package has attracted the attention of many individuals and institutions.
The pie will be so large that even people and institutions besides Justice and Development (AKP) Party members may benefit.
My suggestion is to judge the political developments in the short and medium term, including the fascinating developments we are experiencing these days, through the lens of these public tenders.
This is not new. In fact, it is of great benefit to analyze all political developments in Turkey through the lens of public tender processes.
I do not want to be unfair to anyone and mine is a speculative claim only, but I am not sure if the esteemed Ms. Aksener would have left the alliance if this earthquake disaster had not occurred and therefore this enormous public tender package had not been brought to the table.
“Money talks,” say the Americans.
It is very common in our country for any political party, not necessarily just the Good Party, that will receive a substantial share of such an enormous package to reconsider its political position.
Ms. Meral is very close to Ms. Koray Aydin within her party. Ms. Koray Aydin, who was the Minister of Public Works between 1999-2001, which is the period following the Golcuk earthquake, is well informed on these matters and the potential distribution of this pie; let's not forget that either.
As I stated at the beginning of the article, my approach is only one of many.
The motto is: "Follow the money.”
*Eser Karakas: An alum of the Kadikoy Saint Joseph High School, he graduated from the Bogazici University Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences (FEAS) in 1978. He completed his PhD in 1985 at the Istanbul University Faculty of Economics. Since 1996, he has lectured as a professor at the Finance Department of the Faculty of Economics at Istanbul University. He served as the Dean of Bahcesehir University FEAS. He was dismissed from employment by way of Decree-Law No. 675 in 2016. He has been a visiting lecturer at Strasbourg University Sciences Po since 2008.