Turkey’s governing party has elected an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as its new leader, allowing him to assume the office of prime minister.
Binali Yildirim, the country’s minister of transport, maritime, and communication, received 1,405 out of a total of 1,470 votes at a meeting of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP. Yildirim was the sole candidate for chairman at the special session called after Ahmet Davutoglu announced earlier this month he would not seek re-election.
Yildirim is a longtime ally of Erdogan; in the 1990s, Yildirim ran a high-speed ferry company in Istanbul, where Erdogan was mayor, according to Reuters. He has held his ministerial position since 2002. Davutoglu formally resigned hours after the vote, AP reported. Erdogan is expected to formally ask Yildirim to form a new government later Sunday.
Davutoglu’s decision to step down was widely believed to be a result of irreconcilable differences between Davutoglu and the president. Yildirim is expected to support Erdogan in his hopes of transitioning the country to a U.S.-style presidential system. Erdogan’s two predecessors held largely ceremonial roles and never chaired a cabinet meeting, which were overseen by prime ministers. But since his election in 2014 Erdogan has absorbed the power of the prime minister’s office and has sought constitutional reforms that would extend presidential authority and, to some observers, advance his own political ambitions.