Former PM Binali Yıldırım becomes first Parliament speaker of new system

DAILY SABAH WITH ANADOLU AGENCY
ISTANBUL
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Former PM Binali Yıldırım casts his vote for the parliament speaker election alongside AK Party deputies in the second round of voting. (AA Photo)
Former PM Binali Yıldırım casts his vote for the parliament speaker election alongside AK Party deputies in the second round of voting. (AA Photo)

Turkish lawmakers on Thursday elected Turkey's last Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım to be the first speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly under new government system.

The voting process began at 2:28 p.m. local time (11:28 GMT) at the Turkish Parliament. Former parliament speaker Ismail Kahraman is watching the election process.

In the first round, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) candidate Binali Yıldırım received 331 votes in the speaker election in 600-seat Parliament, with main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) Erdoğan Toprak receiving 134 votes, followed by opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) candidate Meral Danış Beştaş with 65 votes, opposition Good Party's (IP) Hayrettin Nuhoğlu with 43 votes and Felicity Party's (SP) Nazır Cihangir Islam with four votes. Four votes were deemed invalid.

In the second round, Yıldırım got 336 votes, while Toprak got 131, Beştaş 65, and Nuhoğlu 42.

Yıldırım won the third round with 335 votes, while 301 were needed to secure the post.

In accordance with the Turkish Constitution, the election of the speaker is being conducted via secret ballot. In the first two rounds of voting, at least 401 out of 600 deputies' votes are needed to win.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in Belgium for the NATO summit, called Yıldırım on Thursday to congratulate him on his election.

Yıldırım has served as the country's final prime minister until earlier this week, when the post was abolished under constitutional changes. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has announced that it will support the AK Party candidate.

CHP has nominated Toprak, a onetime youth and sports minister and a lawmaker from the Istanbul province, for the post of Parliament speaker.

IP candidate Nuhoğlu, born in 1953, is also a lawmaker from Istanbul.

HDP candidate Beştaş, born in 1967, is a lawmaker from the southeastern Siirt province.

SP candidate Islam is a lawmaker from Istanbul.

Yıldırım has been considered to be the preferred name for the post given his positive personality and good sense of humor, which might prompt more dialogue and reconciliation in Parliament.

Having served the country as the transport, maritime affairs and communications minister in the 58th, 59th, 60th, 61st and 64th governments, Yıldırım became Turkey's prime minister in May 2016. With the constitutional changes approved in the April 16, 2017 referendum, which envisaged a new executive presidential system, it was decided that the prime ministerial post would be abolished. Turkey officially switched to a presidential system with the June 24 elections.

According to Turkish state protocol, the Parliament speaker is the second-highest ranking government official. The current Parliament speaker Ismail Kahraman, who served for two terms, did not seek another term due to his advanced age and health problems.

All rounds of the voting will be successively held. In a third round of voting, a minimum of 301 votes is needed. If a fourth round is necessary, the candidate with the largest number of votes is elected.

The AK Party holds 290 seats in parliament, while the CHP has 144 seats, the HDP has 67 seats, the MHP has 49, the IP has 42, the Felicity Party (SP) has two and the Democrat Party (DP) and the Grand Unity Party (BBP) have one each.

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