Turkey swears in pro-Erdogan parliament amid economic woes

#TurkeyChooses

The ruling party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will needs to rely on its nationalist allies to ensure a majority after June's election

In a a speech to AKP MPs ahead of the session, Erdogan said they had emerged as the largest party but nonetheless had 'fallen short of the target' (Reuters)
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Saturday 7 July 2018 16:07 UTC
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Members of Turkey's new parliament have started taking their oaths, with the ruling party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan needing to rely on his nationalist allies to ensure a majority.

Parliamentary polls were held simultaneously on 24 June with presidential polls, where Erdogan won a new mandate to extend his 15-year domination of Turkey under a new system that gives him extensive powers.

However, Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was less dominant in the parliamentary elections, winning 295 seats and falling just short of an outright majority in the 600 MP chamber.

The AKP will now have to rely on its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which won 49 seats in a far stronger performance than was predicted.

The MHP took 11.1 percent of the vote despite regularly receiving about 5 percent in opinion polls preceeding the election.

Analysts say the MHP could push the AKP into a harder line on Kurdish issues and foreign policy, the AFP news agency said.

The opposition will be led by the secular Republican People's Party (CHP), which won 146 seats in the parliament.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which has been hit by a spate of detentions of its top figures, is the second-largest opposition party, with 67 seats.

The right-wing Iyi (Good) Party of Meral Aksener, formally a leading figure in the MHP, enters parliament for the first time after it was set up in October 2017, with 43 seats.

'Fallen short'

In a a speech to the AKP MPs ahead of the session, Erdogan said they had emerged as the largest party but nonetheless had "fallen short of the target" and needed to "correctly evaluate" the results.

The incoming government faces a growing economic challenge, with the Turkish lira hitting new lows because of deepening financial problems.

Erdogan and the AKP have enjoyed 16 years of electoral success, but that record is being undermined by surging inflation and interest rate increases aimed at curbing the currency's instability.

While the opposition blames the situation on an economic programme it says has been fuelled in large part by an unsustainable construction boom, the government says the source of the problems lie with "foreign agents".

Those elected began the lengthy process of taking their oaths individually in a session chaired by senior Good Party member Durmus Yilmaz as temporary speaker. The process of swearing in each MP is expected to last until late into Saturday.

The AKP is expected to nominate outgoing Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, whose post is being extinguished under the new system, as permanent speaker but this has yet to be confirmed.

The new parliament is set to include some colourful characters after the AKP sought to bring in figures from outside politics.

Former Turkey international footballer Alpay Ozalan, who famously taunted David Beckham in a notorious Euro 2004 qualifier, has been elected for the AKP.

Also elected for the AKP is the former world Supersport motorcycle champion Kenan Sofuoglu, who arrived for the ceremony in a Lamborghini sports car.

A high-profile new MP for the HDP is the investigative journalist Ahmet Sik, who was handed a seven-and-a-half-year jail sentence in April along with other staff from the opposition Cumhuriyet daily but is free pending appeal.

Erdogan is himself to be sworn in at parliament on Monday, followed by a lavish ceremony at his palace marking the transition to the new presidential system.

Officials said 22 presidents and 17 premiers of foreign states were expected to attend.