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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 July 2007, 19:04 GMT 20:04 UK
Gul's presidential bid boosted
Abdullah Gul
Controversial candidate: Abdullah Gul
One of Turkey's main opposition parties, the MHP, has said it will not boycott next month's presidential election.

The move could clear the way for the Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul - a former Islamist - to become president.

Turkey's secular opposition and the military opposed his candidacy in May, provoking a crisis which led to early parliamentary polls.

Elections on 22 July were won by the ruling AKP, an Islamist-rooted party.

The MHP (Nationalist Action Party) could, just by turning out, give the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) the two-thirds quorum needed in parliament to elect the new country's president.

This quorum - 367 deputies out of 550 - eluded the AKP in May.

In the subsequent elections, the AKP was returned with a comfortable, albeit smaller majority, still shy of two thirds.

Controversial candidate

A candidate needs a two-thirds majority to be elected president in the first two rounds of voting and an absolute majority, 276, in the third round. The AKP has 340 deputies.

The MHP hopes, however, to be able to put pressure on the government to nominate a less controversial candidate than Mr Gul.

Turkish Parliament composition
Turkey Parliament
AKP 340 seats
CHP 112 seats
MHP 71 seats
Independents 27 seats
Total 550 seats

The leader of the nationalists, Devlet Bahceli, has called on the ruling party to name a candidate who is not controversial. That would rule out Mr Gul.

The BBC's Istanbul correspondent, Sarah Rainsford says it is still far from clear that the AKP is ready to sacrifice Mr Gul after such a resounding victory at the polls.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been talking about compromise and consensus - and in the end, the decision will be his, she says.

But on Wednesday, his right-hand man, Mr Gul, hinted he still wanted to run for president, saying he could not ignore the signals of support for him from the streets.




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