Turkey's Parliament fails to select speaker in first rounds of secret voting

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 30.06.2015 19:13
Updated 01.07.2015 11:18
emDHA Photo/em
DHA Photo

Four candidates running for Parliament speaker competed yesterday; however, no candidate received two-thirds of the votes in the first two rounds, equivalent to the votes of 367 deputies. The speaker will be elected in today's voting sessions

Deputies at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) will be casting their ballots in the third and fourth rounds of the election to choose a speaker on Wednesday.

Four candidates running for Parliament speaker competed on Tuesday to get the second highest post in the hierarchy of the state mechanism in the Turkish state; however, no candidate received two-thirds of the votes in the first two rounds, equivalent to the votes of 367 deputies. İsmet Yılmaz, the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) Parliament speaker candidate, won the first round with 256 votes.

The AK Party, which holds the highest number of seats in Parliament with 258 deputies, only gave away two votes. Deniz Baykal, current acting-speaker of Parliament and the Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate, placed second with 125 votes.

Baykal did not participate in the voting process, and the CHP had six missing votes in the first round. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) candidate Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat each received 81 votes.

Both the MHP and HDP have 80 deputies each, therefore their candidates both received an extra vote. Two votes were casted blank.

A third voting session will be held on Wednesday, where an absolute majority of the total number of deputies is needed, 276 being the lowest. A fourth round of balloting will take place between the two candidates who obtained the highest number of votes if an absolute majority cannot be obtained in the third round. The candidate who receives the majority of the votes in the fourth round assumes the post of Parliament speaker. The vice speaker positions are divided among the parties, starting with the party with the highest share of seats, provided that two of the positions are designated to the party with an absolute majority.Speaking during his AK Party's parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said all deputies of his party will support the AK Party candidate for the whole election process. He later commented on the possibility of forming a coalition with another party, stating that the AK Party will not make concessions regarding their principles while undertaking coalition talks. He also added that the president and his authority cannot be made the subject of coalition negotiations, sending the message that the AK Party will have no tolerance against demands by the opposition that argues that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's powers should be limited.

Once the parliament speaker is elected, official negotiations to form the new government will begin. The election process for parliament speaker is viewed as a practice for a possible coalition government.

Priot to the election, AK Party candidate İsmet Yılmaz visited the leaders of two parties in parliament on Saturday to ask for support, stressing the necessity for compromise. First visiting MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli, Yılmaz said after the short meeting that he asked for support from the MHP leader in a compromise period. The second destination for the AK Party candidate was the pro-Kurdish HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş. Yılmaz claimed that Demirtaş told him that in the first and second round of voting for speaker they would support their own candidate, Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat, a former AK Party deputy chairman. However, Demirtaş told Yilmaz that after the two first rounds, the HDP would look at the possibility of agreeing with another party and supporting another candidate besides its own.

The parliamentary speaker candidate from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Deniz Baykal, who is currently acting as speaker, as he is the oldest deputy in the chamber, sent a letter to the deputies in Parliament to garner votes for the parliamentary speaker elections.

"There is no longer the comfort of single-party government. In the 25th government, the principle of separation of powers will come to the forefront. The directive power and efficiency of parliament will be seen," said the CHP parliamentary speaker in his letter. Asking for the support of deputies ahead of the elections, Baykal pledged to contribute to an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation, while increasing the operability of Parliament at the level of politics and social representation.

Holding talks with all party leaders, Baykal first met with MHP leader Bahçeli on June 26. Speaking after the meeting, Baykal said that he informed Bahçeli about how he interpreted the duty of parliamentary speakership, how he evaluates Turkey's political atmosphere and the responsibility and duties the Parliament takes over. Following talks with Bahçeli, the CHP candidate convened with AK Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu and later with HDP co-chair Demirtaş.

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