UPDATE WITH SECOND ROUND OF VOTING
By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) – Turkish lawmakers on Sunday began casting their votes to elect new speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly.
In accordance with the Turkish Constitution, the election of the speaker is being conducted via secret ballot.
The first and second round of voting in the election for parliament speaker yielded no clear result, as all four candidates failed to secure the required two-thirds majority to win.
A third round is now underway.
Mustafa Sentop, deputy speaker and ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's nominee, is the strongest candidate for the post.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has announced that it will support the AK Party’s candidate.
The head of the parliament planning and budget committee Sureyya Sadi Bilgic will replace Sentop as deputy speaker.
Meanwhile, AK Party's deputy chair Lutfu Elvan will be the new head of the planning and budget committee.
The voting process began at 12.11 p.m. local time (0911GMT) at the Turkish Parliament.
The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) nominated their deputy group chair Engin Altay, a lawmaker from the Istanbul province.
The opposition Good (IYI) Party nominated Imam Huseyin Filiz for the post of parliament speaker.
Filiz, born in 1950, is also a lawmaker from southeastern Gaziantep province.
The opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) nominated Serpil Kemalbay Pekgozegu for the post.
Pekgozegu, born in 1964, is a lawmaker from the western Izmir province.
***In the second round, Sentop got 333 votes, while Altay got 126, Pekgozegu 46, and Filiz 35
***A total of 544 lawmakers cast votes, while four votes were declared invalid.
***AK Party's Istanbul mayoral candidate Binali Yildirim attended the voting in the second round.
***Yildirim had stepped down earlier this week ahead of Sunday’s speaker election.
In the first two rounds of voting, at least 401 out of 600 deputies' votes are needed to win.
In a third round of voting, a minimum of 301 votes is needed. If a fourth round is necessary, the candidate with the largest number of votes is elected.
The AK Party holds 291 seats in parliament, while the Republican People’s Party (CHP) has 142 seats, HDP 65 seats, the MHP 49, IYI Party 39, Felicity (Saadet) Party 2, Turkish Workers Party 2, Democrat Party (DP) 1, and Grand Unity Party (BBP) 1, and independent 3.