World

Turkey’s Parliament Approves Presidential System

Ruling Justice and Development Party and main opposition Republican People's Party legislators scuffle in Turkey's parliament during deliberations over a controversial package of constitutional amendments that would greatly expand President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers, in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. Lawmakers were seen pushing each other and exchanging blows during a round of voting on Wednesday. (AP Photo)

Ruling Justice and Development Party and main opposition Republican People’s Party legislators scuffle in Turkey’s parliament during deliberations. Credit: AP

Istanbul: Turkey’s parliament moved a step closer, late Sunday, to approving a constitutional reform package that would pave the way for a presidential system.

In a late-night session in Ankara, a majority of lawmakers voted in favour of the final article in the controversial package presented by the ruling party.

Legislators have now approved all 18 articles in the reform package which would overhaul the constitution and boost the powers of the presidency. But a second and final round of voting is required to confirm the result. If the reform bill should secure at least 330 votes in the 550-seat assembly, it would then be put to a national referendum.

The results so far suggest the bill will garner enough votes to warrant the referendum.

Sunday’s vote concluded a week of heated debates that on occasion gave way to brawls. Ruling party officials argue a strong presidency is needed to strengthen Turkey as it confronts multiple terrorism threats. Critics paint the changes as a bid to cement out sized powers already exercised by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Legislators will convene again on January 18 and should conclude voting by January 21, according to the state-run Anadolu agency.

(AP)