The Turkish parliament approved a draft bill early on January 21 that would dramatically expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and pave the way for a referendum on changing the constitution later this year.
The government says the proposals -- which will create an executive presidency for the first time in modern Turkey -- will ensure a simpler and more effective administration, critics say it will give Erdogan more unchecked power.
The 18-article draft constitution was approved with 339 votes in the 550 member assembly. At least 330 deputies -- a three-fifths majority -- were needed to adopt the bill.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has a comfortable majority in the parliament. The changes won the support of most deputies from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which has been accused of taking bribes from the AKP.
The reform would allow Erdogan to issue decrees, declare emergency rule, appoint ministers and top state officials, and dissolve the parliament.
Erdogan became president in 2014, after over a decade as prime minister and has been accused by critics of increasing authoritarianism with the arrest and dismissal of tens of thousands of police, judges, military officers, journalists, and academics since a failed coup attempt on July 15.