The Turkish parliament has approved a package of constitutional reforms that will see more power placed in the hands of the president, completing a second round of voting on the 18 articles. The vote, which was completed recently, paves the way for a referendum on the changes to the constitution expected to be held in April.
A total of 339 members of parliament voted in favor of the amendments, state-run Anadolu Agency reported. This just passed the minimum 330 votes needed out of the 550-seat parliament.
The constitutional reforms will found a presidential system in place of the current parliamentary one. The changes are fiercely opposed by the two main opposition parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), who fear increasing authoritarianism in the country.
The reform would enable the president to issue decrees, declare emergency rule, appoint ministers and top state officials and dissolve parliament — powers that the two main opposition parties say strip away balances to Mr Erdogan’s power.
Mr Erdogan assumed the presidency — a largely ceremonial position — in 2014 after over a decade as prime minister.
Since then, pushing his powers to the limit, he has continued to dominate politics by dint of his personal popularity.
Critics accuse him of increasing authoritarianism with the arrests and dismissal of tens of thousands of judges, police, military officers, journalists and academics since a failed military coup in July.
Mr Erdogan and the government say the extent of the crackdown is justified by the nature of the threat to the state from July 15, when rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and fighter jets in a violent bid to seize power.
Turkey has also been hit by a spate of deadly bombings and gun attacks by Islamic State and Kurdish militants over the past year and a half.