Turkey ruling party nominates defence minister for speaker

İsmet YılmazTurkey’s ruling party on Friday fielded Defence Minister Ismet Yilmaz as its candidate for the post of parliament speaker, after a bruising election in which it lost its majority.

“We, the AK Party, decided to propose Mr Ismet Yilmaz for the post of parliament speaker,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a televised press conference in Ankara after a meeting of the party’s executive board.

The nomination by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which emerged as the first party in the June 7 election but lost its overall majority in the 550-seat parliament, comes after the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) fielded its veteran former leader Deniz Baykal for the post.

The election for speaker is due to take place in parliament on Tuesday, with additional rounds on July 1 if needed.

Yilmaz, 53, is seen as a low-profile candidate compared to Baykal, 76, an experienced politician and a respected figure who chaired the first session of the new parliament on Tuesday as the oldest MP in the chamber.

Speaker candidates may attract cross-party support and the vote is seen as an important bellweather for the most likely coalition combination.

Baykal’s nomination led to rumours in some political quarters that the AKP could form a grand coalition government with the CHP along the lines of Germany’s current government.

But Davutoglu dismissed the suggestions, saying that the election for speaker was not part of coalition negotiations and no official contacts were made with the CHP.

“The country needs right now not political tensions but a government which will rule in compromise,” Davutoglu said.

Another serious contender for speaker is the candidate of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the former head of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation.

Ihsanoglu also unsuccessfully challenged Recep Tayyip Erdogan in August 2014 presidential elections.

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