Ankara, June 29 () - Having taken oaths last week, Turkey’s newly elected deputies will gather on June 30 at a plenary session for checking the first item on their checklist: electing one member of Turkey’s 25th term of parliament as its speaker for the next two years.
The first two rounds of voting are 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. In a third round of voting on July 1, a minimum of 276 votes is needed. In the fourth and final round, the candidate with the most votes will be elected speaker.
All four political parties, which made their way to parliament through the June 7 election, have nominated their candidates, with the June 27 deadline to apply for the parliamentary speaker’s position already passed.
Without losing any time, Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate, incumbent Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, and Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) candidate Deniz Baykal, already began visiting party leaders as early as June 27 in order to gain support.
Candidate visits to leaders of other parties will occupy agenda of the first day of this week as well. The Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) candidate, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, and the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) candidate, Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat, will make courtesy visits to CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and make their case for holding the prestigious post.
Speaking to reporters over the weekend in Diyarbakır, HDP’s Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair İdris Baluken said they were expecting the office of Prime Minister and AKP’s leader Ahmet Davutoğlu to set an exact date in response to their request to visit Davutoğlu along with Fırat.
Baluken also noted that they would not be visiting MHP leader Davetli Bahçeli because of his rhetoric against their party. In a recent interview, Bahçeli said they have been “cutting the HDP’s presence in parliament dead.”
In messages posted to his Twitter account, Baluken satirically criticized MHP candidate İhsanoğlu’s decision not to visit the HDP as part of his tour of party leaders.
“Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu will not visit our party! As the HDP, we are living a grave sadness and chocked to the extent of taking a break from all of our work :)” Baluken tweeted.
Another tense front in this whirlwind of tours was the MHP headquarters when AKP candidate Yılmaz visited Bahçeli on June 27.
The meeting between Yılmaz and Bahçeli, which was also attended by AKP spokesperson Beşir Atalay, AKP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Ahmet Aydın and two senior MHP executives, took only four minutes.
Including Yılmaz’s entrance and exit from the MHP headquarters, it was only 10 minutes.
Yılmaz opened the conversation by asking for the MHP’s support for his run, sources said. After wishing Yılmaz luck, Bahçeli was quoted by the same sources as responding to Yılmaz: “We have nominated our candidate. Traditionally, we have a habit of backing our candidate.”
After a few seconds of silence, Yılmaz turned to Atalay and asked whether they had any other issue to bring up. As Atalay responded negatively, Yılmaz gently asked to leave.
Observers said the MHP leader’s approach was surprising for the AKP delegation since they pinned hope on votes that could come from the MHP to elect their candidate in the fourth round.
Some other analysts, meanwhile, argued that the AKP specifically nominated its low-profile defense minister because it could be willing to cede the post to the opposition in return for a deal to form a coalition government.
In picking Yılmaz, the AKP opted for a veteran backbencher lacking the name recognition of the rival CHP candidate, Baykal, the former head of the party and parliament’s oldest deputy.