The coming months will reveal whether the US and Turkey’s political divergences will trump their strategic interests.
A Turkish parliamentary commission has approved draft constitutional amendments that introduce a new executive presidential system, giving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more powers.
The commission’s nod on Friday after nine days of debate, paves the way for a vote in parliament and is supported by politicians from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Under the changes, the prime minister’s post will be abolished, while the president and vice president will have full executive powers.
The commission completed approval of the draft in a marathon 17-hour session, parliamentary sources told Reuters news agency.
The draft proposal allows the president to be a party member. Erdogan had to nominally step aside as AKP leader after he was elected president in 2014, as the constitution designates the head of state as a non-partisan office.
The number of parliamentarians will increase from 550 to 600 and general elections will be held every five years, instead of four years, the report said.
It calls for the next parliamentary and presidential elections to take place on November 3, 2019.
Critics fear the proposed reforms would allow Erdogan, who already has outsized influence over his party and the levers of government, to rule unchecked.
The changes will be put to a referendum, which the government expects will be held in spring.
Erdogan has turned a largely ceremonial presidency into a powerful platform by drawing on his unrivalled popularity.
The ruling AK Party, founded by Erdogan more than a decade ago, wants the backing of the nationalist MHP opposition to see the plan through parliament.
Erdogan has repeatedly blamed coalition governments for what he calls Turkey’s political instability and economic downfall, which was the situation when his party came to power the first time in 2002.