Turkey plans a referendum by next May on constitutional changes that would expand the powers of the president and will then hold presidential and parliamentary polls together in 2019, a deputy prime minister said on Friday.
Nurettin Canikli told A Haber TV in an interview that the ruling AK Party would submit its proposal on the constitutional changes to parliament on Friday and that the nationalist MHP opposition would support the bill.
"The referendum looks like it could be held around March or April, but it could also be pushed to May," he said, ruling out any early election before 2019.
President Tayyip Erdogan and his supporters have long argued that Turkey needs the strong leadership of an executive president, akin to the system in the United States or France, to avoid the fragile coalition governments of its past.
Opponents fear the change will bring increasing authoritarianism to a country already under fire from Western allies over its record on rights and freedoms, especially after widespread purges in the wake of a failed July coup.