By Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) - Turkish lawmakers on Tuesday began casting their votes to elect a new speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly.
In accordance with the Turkish Constitution, the election of the speaker is being conducted via secret ballot.
Mustafa Sentop, the current speaker and ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's nominee, is the strongest candidate for the post.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has announced that it will support Sentop.
The voting process began at 4.14 p.m. local time (1314GMT) at the Turkish Parliament.
The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) nominated Haluk Koc, born in 1954, a lawmaker from the central Ankara province.
The opposition Good (IYI) Party nominated Imam Huseyin Filiz for the post. Filiz, born in 1950, is a lawmaker from southeastern Gaziantep province.
The opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) nominated Erol Katircioglu -- born in 1951. Katircioglu is a lawmaker from Istanbul.
Turkish Worker Party's lawmaker from Istanbul Erkan Bas, born in 1979, will also run for the post.
In the first two rounds of voting, at least 401 out of 600 deputies' votes are needed to win.
In a third round of voting, a minimum of 301 votes is needed. If a fourth round deems necessary, the candidate with the largest number of votes is elected.
In the Turkish Parliament, the ruling AK Party holds 291 seats, while CHP has 138 seats, HDP 58 seats, MHP 49, IYI Party 37, Turkish Workers Party two, independents six seats, whereas Democracy and Progress (Remedy) Party, Democrat Party (DP), Grand Unity Party (BBP), Saadet (Felicity) Party, and Democratic Regions Party (DBP) hold one each.