Turkey parliament moves country toward presidential system

AP News
Posted: Jan 15, 2017 6:06 PM

ISTANBUL (AP) — 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 light-night session in Ankara, a majority of lawmakers voted in favor 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 outsized powers already exercised by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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