A meeting was arranged between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Deniz Baykal, the former head of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and newly elected Antalya deputy.
The two spoke in a facility of the the Foreign Ministry in Turkey’s capital of Ankara on talks regarding Sunday's election results and on the selection of a new parliamentary speaker.
According to presidency officials, the request for the meeting came from Baykal.
Speaking after the meeting, Baykal stated that he went to the meeting as a deputy who will temporarily serve as the speaker of the new parliament. The 77-year-old veteran politician is the most senior member of the Turkish parliament.
“The president did not request any private demands but I observed that he believes in stability and consensus over the challenges ahead,” said Baykal.
Stating that forming a coalition is the party leaders’ concern, Baykal continued “I understand the president wants the parliament to form a government as soon as possible and he is open to all coalition models.”
“I gladly saw that he has no objections to opposition parties forming a coalition among themselves,” he added. Baykal also said that an early election "is not a preferable solution."
After the new deputies’ are sworn into office, the first duty of parliament will be to elect a speaker. During the election period of a new speaker, Baykal will preside over the parliament. Also, there is a possibility of him retaining his post after the election, depending on the decision of his peers.
The Erdogan-Baykal meeting is being interpreted by many as Baykal’s being a candidate to serve as the new permanent speaker of the parliament and a possible sign of a coalition between the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the CHP.
This is the second critical Erdogan-Baykal meeting since February 23, 2003 when Erdogan’s way was paved to become a deputy and then a prime minister.
At that time, Erdogan was jailed because he read an outlawed poem by early 20th-century thinker Ziya Gokalp in parliament, an act banned at the time due to prevailing secularity measures enforced by the junta. He was not able to be nominated as a deputy candidate in the 2002 elections even though he was the head and founder of the AK Party.
After the meeting, then-chairman of CHP Baykal and his party supported the constitutional change which removed Erdogan’s ban. Later, Erdogan was then chosen as a deputy and served as Turkish Prime Minister for 11 years.