Kanal İstanbul: a "crazy project" serving political ambitions

Yoann Morvan
The current proliferation of mega-projects in the Istanbul metropolitan area is both undeniable and impressive. The projects currently in progress or scheduled for the near future will impose long-lasting changes on the urban structure of this megalopolis. Yoann Morvan, a researcher and co-director of the Observatoire Urbain d'Istanbul (Istanbul Urban Observatory), analyses these territorial metamorphoses and highlights the electoral and economic factors that come into play behind the scenes.
more » ... ehind the scenes. On 12 June 2011, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his party achieved a clear victory in Turkey's legislative elections, obtaining half of all votes-their third consecutive win since 2002. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) owes this level of public approval in no small part to the success of the Turkish economy (9% growth in 2010, just behind China), of which Istanbul is the driving force. Erdoğan, a former mayor of Istanbul, intends to maximise the city's economic potential through a number of mega-projects. The Turkish prime minister launched his campaign (on 27 April 2011) with the announcement of, in his own words, a "crazy project": the creation-in time for 2023, the centenary of the creation of the Republic of Turkey-of a canal 50 km long, 25 m deep and 150 m wide, linking the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. Figure 1: AKP electoral campaign-Erdoğan and his plan for a canal for Istanbul by 2023. © Istanbul Urban Observatory-Brian Chauvel.