ANKARA, January 21

Turkey’s lawmakers have endorsed a bill on amendments to the country’s constitution changing the current parliamentary system to the presidential form of government.
A total of 339 MPs out of 488 voted in favor of the proposed amendments.
Ahead of the vote on the entire package of 18 amendments, the MPs had considered each of them separately over the past three days, and all of them were approved.
However, the support for the bill is insufficient for the amendments to come into force without holding a nationwide vote.
Under the parliament’s charter, the bill should be handed over to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for approval no later than early next week. If the president ratifies it within the next several days, the referendum may be held in early April.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said “now it is up to the people to decide, the people will take the final decision.”
The proposed amendments, initiated by the ruling Justice and Development Party, also include the abolition of the Office of the Prime Minister. They also allow the president to continue being a member of a party, expand his legislative and executive powers, and give him the right to form the cabinet of ministers.
However, the lawmakers can initiate a court action against the president and such a request should gain support of more than 50% MPs.
Another important change will be increasing the number of seats in the parliament from 550 to 600 and reducing the minimum age requirement for the candidates for MPs to 18.