By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu
Turkish parliament on Thursday elected former Prime Minister and Justice and Development (AK) Party's lawmaker Binali Yildirim as its new speaker.
Turkey's last Prime Minister Yildirim, a lawmaker from western Izmir province, received 335 votes in the third round of voting by the Grand National Assembly of 600 seats.
In the third round, a minimum of 301 votes was needed.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) supported Yildirim in the election.
Speaking to lawmakers after the election, Yildirim thanked AK Party's and MHP's parliamentary groups for their support.
"I want it to be known that I would be the speaker of lawmakers who gave me or did not give me vote," Yildirim said.
Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate Erdogan Toprak got 135 votes, while People's Democratic Party (HDP) candidate Meral Danis Bestas bagged 63 votes.
Good (IYI) Party's candidate Hayrettin Nuhoglu received 40 votes and Felicity (Saadet) Party candidate Cihangir Islamoglu got 5 votes. Six votes were ruled invalid.
The AK Party holds 290 seats in parliament, while the Republican People’s Party (CHP) has 144 seats, HDP 67 seats, the MHP 49, IYI Party 42, Saadet Party 2, Democrat Party (DP) 1, and Grand Unity Party (BBP) 1.
Yildirim, 60, was born in Refahiye, in the eastern Erzincan province.
Yildirim earned a bachelor’s degree at the Istanbul Technical University's School of Maritime and in 1991 graduated with a Master of Science from Sweden’s World Maritime University.
Under then-Istanbul Mayor Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Yildrim served as director general of the Istanbul Fast Ferries Company (IDO) in 1994-2000.
Yildirim won his first seat in the Turkish parliament as a deputy for Istanbul in the fall 2002 general elections, which swept the AK Party into power, and served as minister of transport and communications through 2007.
In the 2007 general elections, he was elected an AK Party deputy from the eastern Erzincan province and continued his tenure as transport and communications minister.
After being elected as a deputy from the Mediterranean province of Izmir in the 2011 general elections, Yildirim became minister of transport, maritime, and communications.
In 2014 he ran for mayor of the Izmir Greater Municipality but came in second, with 36% percent of the vote.
On Nov. 24, 2015, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reappointed him minister of transport, maritime, and communications.
During Yildirim’s tenure as transport minister, Turkey constructed high-speed rail lines between the capital Ankara and the central Anatolian cities of Eskisehir and Konya.
Yildirim speaks French and English.