Ruling AK Party unveils candidates for June polls
Premier Davutoglu will begin campaign tour on April 27.
The Justice and Development, or AK, Party, which has been in power since 2002, has revealed its list of candidates for the June 7 general elections as Tuesday's deadline closed.
Like all other political parties which presented their candidates for the general polls, the AK Party had to submit its list to the Supreme Election Board, or YSK, by 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Tuesday.
"Out of all 550 candidates, there are 451 male and 99 female names compared to the 2011 elections distribution of 78 female and 472 male candidates," AK Party Deputy Chairman and Party Spokesman Besir Atalay told a press conference at the AK Party headquarters.
He also stated that they have put in 132 current deputies from the 24th term of the Turkish Parliament in the new list of candidates.
As for the educational backgrounds of the new candidates, Atalay said the list was comprised of two primary school graduates, 43 high school graduates, and 319 names with a bachelor's degree and 186 with a master's degree.
Atalay stressed that they did not include, as a general principle, the close relatives of present deputies or names within the AK Party who applied for the elections.
Prime Minister Davutoglu was nominated from his hometown of Konya in central Turkey while Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan will run in the polls as a candidate from Ankara.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus will run from northern coastal Ordu province, and Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek is a candidate from the southeastern Gaziantep province.
Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci has been nominated from western Denizli province while Science, Industry and Technology Minister Fikri Isik will run from the northwestern Kocaeli province.
EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkir is the first-ranking candidate from Istanbul's second electoral region, and Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu has been nominated from the western province of Bursa.
Education Minister Nabi Avci will compete in the polls from central Eskisehir province while Sports Minister Akif Cagatay Kilic is a candidate from northern Samsun province.
The campaign for the parliamentary elections is steered by Prime Minister and AK Party Chairman Ahmet Davutoglu, who has been busy at the party headquarters for the past few weeks with senior figures to designate the candidates.
"We completed our list of candidate deputies after a long work. I hope it will be beneficial for our country," Davutoglu tweeted on Tuesday afternoon.
According to the party's campaign calendar, the election manifesto is expected to be unveiled to the public on April 15 during a mass ceremony in the Turkish capital, Ankara, when Davutoglu will introduce the party candidates.
The 2015 parliamentary elections are of key importance to the AK Party government as it seeks to work with the parliament to draft a new constitution as Davutoglu has promised to replace the current one, which was written after the 1980 military coup.
But above all, the election manifesto of the ruling party will include the introduction of a presidential system, for which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been pushing in order to replace the current parliamentary one.
But the AK Party does not have enough seats in parliament to vote for a constitutional change.
According to the current Turkish Constitution, such a change requires the approval of two-thirds (367) of the (550) lawmakers. Only then can the president approve it or hold a referendum on the matter.
Turkish citizens voted in a referendum in 2007 to be able to elect their president by popular vote.
Deputy PM Atalay said in a press conference on Tuesday they aimed to have a governing system with a fully democratic constitution, a system that "has the human as its focus and protects the principle of separation of powers and well-functioning control mechanisms".
"A presidential system that fulfills these democratic conditions will be the thesis of our party," he added.
Despite media claims over interference by Erdogan in the selection process of AK Party candidates, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that the Turkish president had only met with Davutoglu to discuss the part in the election manifesto regarding the presidential system.
"As we all know, he called on all political parties along with the parliament, NGOs, universities and the business world for the presidential system to be the regime that carries Turkey to the 2023 targets for the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish Republic," he said.
The ruling party has set ambitious goals for the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic in 2023, namely for Turkey to become one of the world's 10 biggest economies.
The other significant part of the election manifesto is expected to include the government's fight against the so-called "parallel state," which refers to a purported group of Turkish bureaucrats and senior officials embedded in the country's institutions, including the judiciary and police, who are allegedly trying to undermine the elected Turkish government.
The election board will announce the shortlist of candidates, including the independents, on April 24.
The election campaign for all parties will start on May 28 and end on June 6.
After the candidate list is published in the Official Gazette, the premier will embark on its nationwide tour of election campaign on April 27.
Davutoglu is expected to visit 30 metropolitan areas and other provinces that he has not had the chance to travel to since he became prime minister in August last year.
A total of 6,223 people - including 584 disabled Turkish citizens - submitted applications to run for 550 seats in the Turkish Parliament under AK Party colors, according to Mustafa Atas, head of the AK Party Election Coordination Center.
The figure was 5,718 for the 2011 general polls, he said.
The highest number of applications was for Istanbul with 1,166 applicants, followed by Ankara with 536 and Sanliurfa with 281 applicants.
A total of 70 MPs in the ruling party will not be able to run again in the June elections due to the three-term rule included in the party by-laws.
Among them are Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bulent Arinc, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, Labor Minister Faruk Celik and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu along with other senior figures like Mehmet Ali Sahin, Koksal Toptan, Besir Atalay, Binali Yildirim, Hayati Yazici, Nihat Ergun and Huseyin Celik.
An expected number of nearly 150 MPs from the AK Party parliamentary group will not seek re-election.
Nearly 500 bureaucrats, most of who chose to be nominated by the AK Party, across Turkey submitted their resignations before the deadline of Feb. 10 to be able to run.
These include Borsa Istanbul chairman Ibrahim Turhan, head of the Social Security Institution Gokalp Ilhan and prominent Prime Ministry consultants Taha Ozhan, Ali Sarikaya, Ertan Aydin, Vedat Bilgin and Emine Nur Gunayda.
The president's key advisor Aydin Unal, who has been in Erdogan's closed circle for years, and Justice Ministry High Consultant Adnan Boynukara are also among the public servants leaving posts to be AK Party candidates.
The AK Party was victorious in last year’s March local election and its leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed the presidential election in August 2014.
In the last general election held back in 2011, the ruling party received almost 50 percent of the votes.
Approximately 56 million Turkish citizens will vote on June 7, in the country's 25th general elections, to elect the 550 members of Parliament.
Turkey had held general elections every five years until a 2007 constitutional change which set elections to every four years.
Last Modified: 2015-04-08 08:09:41
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