Turkey moves closer to presidential system of government

Parliament has approved a series of constitutional amendments which would give the president more powers if approved in a referendum.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A newly proposed Turkish constitution will be put to a referendum in the next few months if parliament passes the reform bill.

Turkey's parliament has approved a first round ballot on a constitutional reform bill that will extend the president's powers.

The assembly approved the final 18th article of the package late on Sunday. It will now take a break from the talks before a second round of voting during which any changes to the articles will be debated.

The governing AK Party and nationalist MHP back the reforms. The main opposition CHP and the pro-Kurdish HDP, the second largest opposition party, oppose the changes.

If parliament gives final approval to the constitutional package it will be put to a referendum, likely in the spring.

The reform will enable the president to issue decrees and will allow him or her to be a member of a political party. The changes envisage presidential and general elections in 2019 with a president eligible to serve a maximum of two five-year terms.

The bill needs the support of at least 330 deputies in the 550-seat assembly to go to a referendum. The AK Party has 316 deputies eligible to vote and the MHP 39.

TRT World's Hasan Abdullah is in Ankara and explains the next steps in the process.