Election for speaker of Turkey's parliament goes to third round

Election for speaker of Turkey's parliament goes to third round

Election for speaker of Turkeys parliament goes to third round Those eagerly waiting to see the identity of the new speaker of parliament will have to be patient until the afternoon July 1, as none of the four candidates were able to get the minimum number of votes required for election in the first two rounds held on June 30.

Having lived in a country where a single party government ruled since 2002, the populace’s unusual curiosity in the holder of the post stems from the fact that results of the June 7 parliamentary election suggested that the country will have to return to a coalition government for the first time in more than a decade.

As for the markets, they are eyeing an end to Turkey’s current political uncertainty because Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) still needs to find a junior partner to form a government following its election setback this month when it lost its parliamentary majority.

The first two rounds of voting were scheduled for June 30, with candidates requiring the support of at least 367 members of parliament in the 550-seat assembly in the first two votes.

The first round started at 3 p.m. and 545 deputies voted. The AKP candidate and incumbent Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz received 256 votes, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate and its former chair Deniz Baykal received 125 votes, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) candidate and former Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) head Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu received 81 votes. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) candidate and former AKP deputy and founding member Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat also received 81 votes.

The AKP now has 258 seats in parliament, the CHP has 132 seats, while the MHP and HDP both have 80 seats.

In the second round, the number of votes for AKP nominee Yılmaz remained the same, while CHP nominee Baykal's votes increased to 128. Both the MHP's İhsanoğlu and the HDP's Fırat lost one vote each and dropped to 80.

A third round of voting will be held on July 1, with the winner requiring 276 votes. In the fourth and final round, the candidate with the most votes will be elected speaker. 

Last week, the CHP declared that the selection of a parliamentary speaker had no connection to the formation of a future coalition government, but AKP maneuvers suggest otherwise amid moves to shape a power-sharing deal.

Possible face-off between AKP and CHP candidates

The HDP announced that its candidate, Fırat, will not voluntarily withdraw in the third round on July 1 to support another candidate. However, the June 30 rounds indicated that İhsanoğlu and Fırat are likely to be eliminated in the third round, paving way for a fourth round face-off between Yılmaz and Baykal, which would turn eyes on the MHP and HDP to see whom they will support.

Just when the second round of voting was set to begin on June 30 afternoon, a surprising statement which could give a clue about July 1 vote’s result came from MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli.

Speaking to the private CNNTürk news channel, Bahçeli said his group would not move in the same bloc with the HDP in the fourth round of votes, signaling his 80 lawmakers would either vote for the AKP’s Yılmaz or abstain. 

“If the HDP announces tomorrow its support for Deniz Baykal, then we would never vote for Deniz Baykal,” said Bahçeli.

Observers suggested that Bahçeli’s statement raised the prospect for Yılmaz’s eventual victory. 

Coalition bargaining to begin, officially

Founded in August 2001, the AKP won three consecutive parliamentary elections in 2002, 2007 and 2011 and was able to form a single-party government after each of the elections.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan already made public that he has no intention of giving the mandate to form a government to the AKP before the new parliament elects a speaker. 

Under the conditions, many have focused on the parliamentary speaker’s election on the assumption that the election may signal political parties’ willingness to cooperate and form a coalition government after a June 7 election deprived any one party of a majority of the legislative body’s seats.

In addition, a statement by Erdoğan delivered less than a week after the June 7 election forced the potential coalition partners to accelerate their preparation for a bargaining process.