Atalay, speaking one day after his ruling AK Party resoundingly won a parliamentary election, also said the party was determined that Turkey’s next president would come from within the new parliament, not outside as rivals have demanded. Gül’s candidacy in April plunged Turkey into crisis after the powerful secular elite, including army generals, objected to his Islamist past and blocked parliament’s approval of him.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan defused that crisis by calling an early parliamentary election held on Sunday in which his centre-right AK Party won 47 percent of the vote, or 340 seats in the 550-member assembly. “With his experience as a statesman, Gül is the most suitable candidate for the presidency at the moment,” Atalay told Reuters. “We are determined that the next president will be chosen from within parliament.” Secularists fear Gül as president would try to undermine Turkey’s separation of state and religion, a claim he denies. They also oppose his candidacy because his wife wears the Muslim headscarf, viewed here as a threat to the secular order.