Erdogan ally takes key position in Turkish parliament

ANKARA, Nov 22 (Reuters) - A close ally of President Tayyip Erdogan, who will look to parliament for support to expand the powers of the presidency, was elected assembly speaker on Sunday.

Ismail Kahraman, who won 316 votes in the 550-seat assembly convened after Nov. 1 polls, will exert influence over the agenda of the legislature, speech rights and the order of debate. As such, he would play a role in moves by the ruling AK Party to change the constitution granting Erdogan new executive powers.

At the elections, the AK Party founded by Erdogan regained the overall majority it lost in June. It fell short however of the voting strength it would need to change the constitution without support from other parties or a popular referendum.

That support may not easily be forthcoming.

Erdogan, accused by critics of an increasingly authoritarian style of government, argues that the country would be better served by a strong presidential system.

Turkey faces conflict on several fronts, battling Islamic State militants, Kurdish rebel fighters and militant leftists. Over two million refugees from Syria are encamped on its borders.

(Reporting by Ece Toksabay; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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