Turkish Parliament sworn in as AK Party maintains lead in 3rd decade

Turkish Parliament sworn in as AK Party maintains lead in 3rd decade

Lawmakers elected in the May 14 elections were sworn in on Friday as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan watched, ahead of his own swearing-in ceremony this weekend. Parliament began its 28th term with the ceremony, with the ruling AK Party retaining most of the seats again

Weeks after the parliamentary elections concluded, 600 lawmakers elected or reelected to the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) were sworn in on Friday, according to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting Daily Sabah. As the oldest lawmaker, 75-year-old Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli presided over the swearing-in ceremony as interim Parliament speaker.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) won 268 seats, the most in Parliament, in the elections, as it entered its third decade in power with the latest victory.

In addition to the AK Party, its People’s Alliance partners MHP won 50 seats and the New Welfare Party (YRP) won five, securing a combined majority of 323 seats out of the total 600 in Parliament.

With 169 deputies, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), along with its coalition partner the Good Party (IP), secured a total of 212 seats in Parliament, representing the main opposition Nation’s Alliance.

The smaller partners of the CHP-led six-party opposition coalition managed to get almost 40 lawmakers by entering the parliamentary elections under CHP lists.

The Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), which entered the elections from the CHP lists, won 15, the Future Party (GP) and Felicity Party (SP) 10 each, and the Democrat Party three deputies. After the opening of Parliament, 38 deputies will return to their parties from the CHP from which they were elected. Thereby, the number of CHP lawmakers will be decreased to 129 this year from 169 in 2018.

The six-party opposition bloc, if elected, had aimed for a return to a parliamentary system of government that would appoint the heads of the five parties and the CHP’s Istanbul and Ankara mayors as presidential aides to Kılıçdaroğlu and reintroduce the prime ministerial post.

Neither Kılıçdaroğlu nor the IP leader Meral Akşener, DEVA Chair Ali Babacan, GP Chair Ahmet Davutoğlu, SP Chair Temel Karamollaoğlu or DP Chair Gültekin Uysal have the right to work as lawmakers in the upcoming term.

Türkiye went to the polls last Sunday for a presidential runoff election after no candidate secured over 50% of the vote needed for an outright victory in the first round on May 14.

Erdoğan won with over 52% of the vote, while opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu received over 47%.

Some 360 seats would be needed to call a referendum and 400 to make constitutional changes. The president can still pass some legislative changes by presidential decree, though, under his powers as executive president since 2018.

Parliament’s remaining 65 seats were won by the Labor and Freedom Alliance, made up of the Green Left Party (YSP) with 61 seats and the Türkiye Labor Party (TIP) with four.

Of the 36 political parties that competed for parliamentary seats, a total of 15 will be making up Parliament in its new term in five separate groups but most of their leaders are to be absent from the assembly after failing to be elected as lawmakers.

Erdoğan had 15 ministers in his Cabinet running for Parliament on May 14, including Vice President Fuat Oktay, who will drop out of the presidential Cabinet once they swear in as lawmakers due to the rule on the division of powers.

In order to keep the ministers on duty for a little while longer, however, Ankara is mulling a “delay” in the meantime, in which Oktay and the 15 ministers refrained from swearing in this Friday and will wait for the general assembly session next week.

Parliamentary bylaws allow lawmakers that fail to attend special sessions to take their oaths in the following session.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also attended the ceremony at Parliament on Friday, while his own oath-taking ceremony will take place on Saturday.

Parliament will also elect a new speaker and parties are required to present their candidates within five days of the swearing-in ceremony.

May 14 elections resulted in many surprises and a colorful Turkish Parliament, as new faces emerged and some parties could win seats in provinces they previously failed in. MHP candidate Filiz Kılıç became the first woman lawmaker elected in Nevşehir province. She is among the three lawmakers elected in the area. The other two lawmakers are from the AK Party. Elvan Işık Gezmiş became the first woman elected lawmaker in the Black Sea province of Giresun. Gezmiş was a candidate from the CHP. Further east in Rize, CHP’s candidate Tahsin Ocaklı became the party’s first lawmaker in 43 years in the province. Also, in Erzincan, the CHP won a seat for the first time since 2015 after former district mayor Mustafa Sarıgül’s victory. The elections also marked the first time for the CHP to win a seat in the southeastern Diyarbakır province after 21 years.

There will be five lawmakers under 30 in Parliament in the next term. Four lawmakers are from the AK Party, while one is from YSP. Twenty-five-year-old Zehranur Aydemir, who previously worked in the ruling party’s youth branch, became a lawmaker from the capital Ankara. Former lawmakers Rümeysa Kadak, Mesut Bozatlı and Eyyüp Kadir Inan from the AK Party, all under 30, have become lawmakers. YSP’s 28-year-old candidate Beritan Güneş Altın won a seat in Mardin province.

There will be 479 male and 121 female lawmakers in Parliament. The AK Party has 50, the MHP has four, the CHP has 30, IP has six and YSP has 30, while TİP has one female lawmaker.

Most lawmakers come from a legal background, as a majority of them are lawyers, but there will be engineers, physicians, sociologists, pilots, teachers, farmers, dentists, journalists, pharmacists, archaeologists, artists and nurses in Parliament.

Mervan Gül, who sacrificed his parliamentary seat in the 2003 elections for the election of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was back at Parliament two decades later from the AK Party. Gül was first elected as a lawmaker in the 2002 elections from the AK Party in his constituency Siirt. When the vote was canceled in Siirt over a set of irregularities, the Supreme Election Council (YSK) ordered a renewal of the election. The second election came at a time when the political ban on Erdoğan was lifted. Gül gave up his candidacy for the election of Erdoğan, who was nominated from Siirt, which also happens to be the hometown of first lady Emine Erdoğan. The renewed election paved the way for Erdoğan to be elected into Parliament and launched his lengthy leadership career, crowned with another victory in the presidential vote on Sunday. Erdoğan paid off his political debt to Gül by nominating him in the first place in Siirt, a seat Gül won on Sunday as the sole lawmaker from his party to be elected in the eastern province.

One of the surprises of the election was the runaway success of the New Welfare Party (YRP) founded about four years ago. Led by Fatih Erbakan, son of late Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan who was a political mentor of Erdoğan, the YRP secured five parliamentary seats in the first election it competed. Though it supported the People’s Alliance of Erdoğan in the presidential elections, the party fielded its own candidates in the parliamentary polls. Along with Fatih Erbakan, two candidates from Istanbul were elected to Parliament, while the YRP managed to win seats in Kocaeli and Konya as well. Konya, in particular, was significant for YRP as it has long been a stronghold of Necmettin Erbakan in the elections. Ali Yüksel, a close friend of the late Erbakan, won the Konya seat for the party.

Celebrities, prominent journalists and writers were among the “losers” of the parliamentary elections. Famous TV actors Mehmet Aslantuğ, Serhat Özcan and Barış Atay nominated by the TİP, failed to secure a seat. Hasan Cemal, an elderly journalist and writer, and Kerem Fırtına, an actor known for his role in the popular TV series “Valley of the Wolves,” also lost the legislative election they run for the YSP. Ilyas Salman, an actor known for his comedic roles in the heyday of Turkish cinema, who was nominated by the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) also lost. Irem Yaman, a member of the Turkish national taekwondo team and footballer Gökhan Zan who were nominated by the İP but failed to garner enough votes in the elections as well. Meanwhile, 2006 Miss Türkiye pageant winner Seda Sarıbaş became a lawmaker from Aydın province from AK Party.

Presidential oath

Erdoğan’s swearing-in ceremony will be held at parliament on Saturday, a day of multiple events to mark the new tenure of the country’s longest-serving president. Heads of state from some 20 countries and ministers from some 45 countries are expected to attend the ceremony. The final list of guests is not certain yet but on Friday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed his attendance, one day after he said he would travel to Ankara soon to hold talks with the president over the alliance’s possible new member Sweden. Greek Foreign Minister Vasilis Kaskarelis was also among the confirmed guests of the swearing-in ceremony of Erdoğan.

Friends and allies of Türkiye are expected to be represented at the highest level at the ceremony, including Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev and leaders of Turkic countries.

The president will visit Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of the founder of the Republic of Türkiye Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, after the ceremony. He will later host an inauguration event at the Presidential Complex where he will host prominent figures, including celebrities from the entertainment and sports worlds. He will also host a banquet for heads of state and other guests from abroad. Later on Saturday, he is expected to unveil his new Cabinet.

Erdoğan will be assembling a new Cabinet, which he previously indicated would consist of “dynamic and young people” in a way that would “resonate with the aspirations of the new generation.” He also packed the AK Party’s ranks with young members, marking a 65% change among its lawmakers to foster key affirmative action for women and youths.

Erdoğan has remained Türkiye’s 12th ruling president and becomes the 13th in the line of elected leaders. The people have directly elected the Turkish president since the constitutional amendment was made in 2007. Erdoğan’s first win in presidential polls was in August 2014.