Lessons from Gezi Park (guest post by Mustafa Ulukan)

4 Jun

Tormented, as we are, by the deluge of boring, predictable news, the Balke Bros strives to bring you unemcumbered analysis of the leading issues of the day, empowering you with the tools you need to make informed decisions about the meaning of said developments in your life, and in the lives of those around you.

So, it is our special treat today to bring you cutting-edge analysis about one of this week’s leading newsmakers: the protests sweeping Turkey. Guest blogger, and dear friend of the Balke Bros, Mustafa Ulukan, whom, it should be known, recently completed his third and final CFA exam (successfully, we trust), is a native of Istanbul, where his family still lives, and has several friends who have actually taken part in some of the protests. In this piece, Ulukan goes beyond the headlines, to dissect the origins, deeper meanings, and potential long-term implications of the demonstrations. We are grateful to Ulukan for taking the time to pen this piece, and we hope and trust you find it a good, useful read.


Lessons from Gezi Park

By: Mustafa Ulukan

Gezi 1


By now, most readers have heard about the protests sweeping Istanbul and others parts of Turkey. Instead of reciting news you’ve already seen, I will, in this post, try to decode the events as I see them for followers of the Balke Bros.

  • Regular citizens have learned that if they unite for a just cause, no barricade, tear gas or excessive force can stop them from getting their message across. In turn, they have also learned that they can stop those who took onto themselves the mission of “fathering” a nation of nearly 80 million people with very diverse backgrounds, belief systems and lifestyles. And the prime minister and his ecosystem are no exception to this rule.

Gezi 2

  • Politicians learned that while citizens, particularly youth, may remain silent for extensive periods of time, they can and will snap when faced with the potential of losing their civil liberties. When this happens, it’s a good bet that they will challenge the status-quo, and win.
  • Police learned that using excessive force is counterproductive, and there is a fine difference between carrying out orders and making bad choices that lead to a scarred reputation.

Gezi 3

  • Bought-out, pro-government media learned how quickly truth can unfold when their ill intentions are exposed. They have lost credibility forever.
  • Turkey’s businessmen who unethically bend over backwards before the prime minister (literally) to win contracts have learned that regular citizens have been noting this behaviour for quite some time. The business community will soon discover      that unethical business practices are bad business and lead to financial losses, among other damaging outcomes, in the very near future.

Erdogan 1

  • The opposition has learned that they are way behind and are simply bad at their jobs.
  • The world has learned about the political cost of the country’s decade-long economic success.


  • Istanbul’s mayor has learned that if you don’t give the city’s inhabitants a say on their living space and act like the city is your own personal backyard, it will backfire.
  • The cabinet (ex-PM) has learned that the PM can be a major liability.
  • As for PM Erdogan, what did he learn? Well, he did not learn anything from all this. Instead of having a candid analysis of where he went wrong to create the type of resentment that exists in today’s society, he chose to double down and bet the house on his already bad hand: a novice mistake most rational people would surely avoid.

Erdogan 2

Net winners: Pluralism, Turkish society, civil liberties and, of course, a handful of trees in Gezi Park

Net losers: Authoritarianism, PM Erdogan, the ruling AK Party

What’s next?

It’s too soon to tell, but one thing is certain: the developments of recent days will have long-term, positive consequences. I will be back with another blog entry on this subject in the upcoming weeks.


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