President Tayyip Erdogan could govern Turkey until 2029 with expanded executive powers if proposals by ruling AK Party is approved.
Some officials who have seen the latest draft of the proposal said in Ankara on Wednesday that the ruling party planned to take the proposed constitutional change to a referendum next spring.
Mr. Erdogan and his supporters had argued that Turkey needed a strong executive presidency, akin to the system in the U.S. or France, to avoid the fragile coalition governments that hampered its development in the past.
However, opponents observed the proposed change as a vehicle for Mr. Erdogan’s ambition.
They feared that it would bring increasing authoritarianism to a country already under fire from Western allies over its deteriorating record on rights and freedom.
They referred to the widespread purges in the wake of a failed military coup in July.
The AKP is aiming to hold a referendum on the issue next spring and is seeking support from the nationalist MHP opposition to win parliamentary approval for such a vote.
Under the latest draft presented to the MHP on Tuesday, Mr. Erdogan could assume the position of “acting” executive president immediately after the referendum, if the changes are approved.
A presidential election would then be held, as scheduled, when his term expires in 2019.
Under the Constitution’s current two-term limit and provided he wins the 2019 election, Mr. Erdogan would be able to rule until 2024 only.
But under the proposed executive presidency, the clock would be reset, allowing him another two terms.
“We have come to a conclusion in our work on constitutional changes and will bring it to the parliament in the coming days.
“We will continue to seek a base for consensus with the other parties.
“After that, the decision lies with the people,’’ Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told a conference of AKP without giving details.
According to two senior officials who have seen the draft, the president would be eligible to serve a maximum of two five-year terms.
They said that he would also be able to issue presidential decrees on most executive matters without the need to consult parliament.
The officials added that the president would have up to two deputies and would directly appoint the heads of the military and intelligence agencies.
They said that he would also be able to appoint university rectors, senior bureaucrats and some top judicial bodies, expanding the powers of the role.