Amid considerable criticism and backslapping, a new draft constitution envisaging expanded powers for Turkey’s president will be put to debate at the Turkish parliament.
On Monday, Turkish lawmakers are to begin debates on the proposed amendments to the constitution in two readings, which are expected to last some two weeks.
If approved by the legislature, the reformed constitution will be put to a referendum before coming into force.
The constitutional changes will make the president the country’s number one executive figure, among a series of other amendments.
On December 30, 2016, the draft law, submitted by the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP), passed the Turkish parliament’s constitutional commission.
The new constitution has been on the AKP’s agenda since its founder, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, became Turkey’s president in August 2014.
Supporters of the draft say such a law would enable the head of state to restore stability to the country, which has been shaken up by sporadic deadly terror attacks and a failed military coup last July.
Critics, however, denounce it as a means of restoration of the Ottoman Era powers to Erdogan, whom they see as an authoritarian figure.
The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s Deputy Chairman Bulent Tezcan said it will usher in "one man dictatorship.” "It will be the dissolution of all that our republic has achieved,” he added.
In line with the draft, the president would be elected for a five-year term and serve for a maximum of two mandates. Following the expiry of his current term, Erdogan could thus end up staying in office until 2029 if he wins another term in 2019 elections.
The new constitution will also reportedly pave the way for the abolition of the post of prime minister, in which Erdogan served from 2003 until 2014, and enable the appointment of vice presidents.
It will also empower the president to hire and fire ministers.
The ruling AKP, which currently has 317 seats in the parliament, needs a majority of 330 out of the 550 seats to call a referendum on the draft law.