Marauder (Çapulcu) CEOs

Marauder (Çapulcu) CEOs

How did the Gezi Park incidents affect the business world?

Starting from my own experiences, I should first say this: During the past 20 days, I was faced with a situation where almost 90 percent of appointments and meetings with businesspeople were canceled.

Most probably, the reason of cancellations was that it was calculated that everything would be under the shadow of Gezi Park. It is actually a justified concern.

On the other side of the medallion of the business world and Gezi Park relationship are the arrows of criticisms aimed at the business world in the prime minister’s countless speeches delivered about Gezi Park.

The prime minister’s criticisms have a wide spectrum including the “interest rate lobby,” a bank general manager who has declared he is also a marauder and “point shooting” at Turkey’s leading groups.

It is not a secret that Koç Group has the lion’s share of the criticism arrows.

Claudia Roth, the German Green Party’s co-chair was exposed to tear gas June 15 and she had to take refuge at Divan Hotel, which belongs to Koç Group. In our conversation the morning of June 17 she asked whether the business world was united against the salvos coming from the government. I answered “no” without hesitation.

As a matter of fact, we don’t have such a picture.

Well, what about the stance of TÜSİAD, which is known as the bosses’ club? TÜSİAD was preparing to meet the prime minister in Ankara late June 17. TÜSİAD issued a statement in the first days of the riots criticizing the “disproportional use of force” and calling the sides to commonsense.

TÜSİAD head Muharrem Yılmaz later said, “The Gezi Park actions show that in Turkey, which has a strong economy, there is a population that wants the standards of democracy to rise.”

While waiting with curiosity to learn what will come out of TÜSİAD’s Ankara meeting, I want to refer to remarkable research about CEOs that was in the latest issue of Ekonomist magazine. According to Ekonomist’s research, “The Çapulcu [marauder] CEO Research,” 47.5 percent of CEOs have gone to Gezi Park and 52.5 percent have not stepped foot there.

I can say that every time I went to Gezi Park I came across top-level executives of Turkey’s leading firms.

Those who had changed their business clothes were there either out of curiosity about what was going on in the park that had caught its own delightful rhythm or to keep an eye, to some extent, on their children who were sleeping in the tents there.

When the CEOs were asked what they thought the reason for the Gezi Park actions were, in the same survey, 54.8 percent of the CEOs said they were a reaction to the government’s policies, 26.1 percent said it was a democratic demand for rights and only 11.3 percent believed it was an environmental movement.

In other words, the business world is aware that the Gezi Park actions are beyond the “logging of a few trees,” as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan insistently says each time.

Well, how is the report card of the government in managing this incident? More than half of the CEOs, 51.5 percent, have given 1 point out of 10 to the government. It is obvious that the government has failed in the area of “crisis management,” one of the terms the business world loves to use.

Asked which sector would be affected the most if the Gezi Park incidents continue, 21 percent of the CEOs answered tourism. Their second biggest concern was the slowing down of the foreign capital flow. The third concern of the CEOs is the fluctuation in the stock exchange and bonds.