A smart move: Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu

A smart move: Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu

The opposition has selected its candidate: Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu...

Who is İhsanoğlu? Let us portray him:

His family is from Yozgat, he was born in Cairo.

His father was the best friend of Mehmet Akif, the poet of the Turkish national anthem. His father was so close to Akif that he immigrated to Egypt with him.

That is the reason he was born in Cairo. İhsanoğlu knows the Islamic world very well. He knows Islamic art and Islamic history very well.

He has a very good understanding of what the Ottomans did in science. He knows the Ottomans very well.

He is moderate; he knows the language of diplomacy and he is respected in all circles.

Will all those qualifications be adequate to make İhsanoğlu the first president elected by popular vote?

I don’t know; I cannot know.

But there is one thing I know: The opposition, by uniting under his name, has made a very clever move. I can even say this: They have done the best they can do.


Let me explain: The name İhsanoğlu is not a repulsive name for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) grassroots. They will not be able to strengthen their forces against him.

Nationalists, conservatives, old center-rightists, Ottomanists; they will not orient toward the AK Party candidate by saying, “This guy is too leftist; he is a stranger; he is distanced from Anatolia, he is too much of a non-nationalist.” This is because İhsanoğlu is close to the center-right, local, genuinely from Anatolia and a national name.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP), social democrats and ultranationalists, just as they could not stomach the name Mansur Yavaş at the first stage, may not stomach the name İhsanoğlu. But when there is the dilemma of “Erdoğan or İhsanoğlu?” there is nothing else that they can do but chose İhsanoğlu. Also, who knows, just as they turned out to like Mansur Yavaş, maybe they will like İhsanoğlu as they get to know him.

From the point of the Kurds, when we look at İhsanoğlu, his is not a name that Kurds would refer to with antipathy. I’m not saying they will embrace him with warm feelings. I am saying that İhsanoğlu is not a name who will automatically divert them to the opposing candidate.

The best of İhsanoğlu

His biggest disadvantage at the moment is that people do not know him adequately. The ratio of those who are even able to pronounce his name correctly is low… He will have to exert considerable efforts to make himself known.

His biggest opportunity is that he has the potential to unite the anti-Erdoğan segments under his name.

His biggest shortcoming may be that he lacks a media that would wholeheartedly support him. He does not have a newspaper, a television, a website or a "pool." He does not even have a jacuzzi.

His best feature is his reconciliatory personality. His biggest dilemma is that he does not have the time and means to explain himself thoroughly.

His biggest superiority is that his father was comrades with Akif and he has also followed that road.

His biggest luck is that he is close to the Middle East; he knows the Islam world.

Even though he is a “conservative” he may look a bit too “elite” for our guys. His biggest test will be whether or not he will identify himself with the Kemalist, leftist, social democrat and Alevi voters; whether he will be as competent as Mansur Yavaş proved to be in that matter…