ANKARA: Turkey’s new parliament on Thursday elected as speaker former prime minister Binali Yildirim, a loyalist of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan whose post was abolished after elections last month.
The 600-member parliament approved Yildirim, 62, of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as the new speaker with 335 votes in the third round of voting.
Erdogan’s AKP is just short of a majority in the parliament, but counts on backing from its ally, the hard-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), whose votes helped agree Yildirim as speaker.
Yildirim went down in Turkey’s modern history on Monday as the last of its 27 prime ministers, as the country switched from a parliamentary to a presidential system with Erdogan’s outright victory in the June 24 elections.
A former transport minister who oversaw the implementation of major construction projects, Yildirim is a close ally of Erdogan, who made him prime minister in 2016.
Under the new system, Erdogan enjoys sweeping executive powers including the authority to form a cabinet and to dissolve parliament.
Parliament however retains some powers, and while the speaker position is largely ceremonial the incumbent can play an important role thrashing out a compromise on contentious legislation.
Yildirim strongly campaigned for the new presidential system, with no sign of concern that he stood to lose his own job.
While the new system no longer has a prime minister, it now has a vice president, a post Erdogan handed to the low-profile former head of Turkey’s emergencies agency, Fuat Oktay.