Europe

Turkey: Erdogan advocates powerful presidency after key vote

  • Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim speaks after Turkey's parliament approved a contentious constitutional reform package, paving the way for a referendum on a presidential system that would greatly expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office, in Ankara, Turkey, early Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. In an all-night session that ended early Saturday, lawmakers voted in favor of a set of amendments presented by the ruling party, founded by Erdogan.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

    Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim speaks after Turkey's parliament approved a contentious constitutional reform package, paving the way for a referendum on a presidential system that would greatly expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office, in Ankara, Turkey, early Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. In an all-night session that ended early Saturday, lawmakers voted in favor of a set of amendments presented by the ruling party, founded by Erdogan.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)  (The Associated Press)

  • Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, center, poses for a photo with his legislators shortly before Turkey's parliament approved a contentious constitutional reform package, paving the way for a referendum on a presidential system that would greatly expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office, in Ankara, Turkey, early Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. In an all-night session that ended early Saturday, lawmakers voted in favor of a set of amendments presented by the ruling party, founded by Erdogan.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

    Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, center, poses for a photo with his legislators shortly before Turkey's parliament approved a contentious constitutional reform package, paving the way for a referendum on a presidential system that would greatly expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office, in Ankara, Turkey, early Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. In an all-night session that ended early Saturday, lawmakers voted in favor of a set of amendments presented by the ruling party, founded by Erdogan.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)  (The Associated Press)

  • Turkey's opposition Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahceli, center left, poses for a photo with a ruling party lawmaker, with a scarf, and his legislators,shortly before Turkey's parliament approved a contentious constitutional reform package, paving the way for a referendum on a presidential system that would greatly expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office, in Ankara, Turkey, early Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. In an all-night session that ended early Saturday, lawmakers voted in favor of a set of amendments presented by the ruling party, founded by Erdogan.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

    Turkey's opposition Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahceli, center left, poses for a photo with a ruling party lawmaker, with a scarf, and his legislators,shortly before Turkey's parliament approved a contentious constitutional reform package, paving the way for a referendum on a presidential system that would greatly expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office, in Ankara, Turkey, early Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. In an all-night session that ended early Saturday, lawmakers voted in favor of a set of amendments presented by the ruling party, founded by Erdogan.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)  (The Associated Press)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has started campaigning for constitutional reforms that would greatly expand the powers of his office, hours after a vote in parliament cleared the way for a national referendum on the issue.

Speaking in Istanbul on Saturday, he hailed the assembly's early-morning decision and said "God willing the people will give the true decision, the final decision" that he says would catapult Turkey to a stronger position.

After nearly two weeks of acrimonious debate, Turkey's parliament passed the constitutional reform package, which now needs to be approved in a referendum.

Supporters say the changes would strengthen Turkey, opponents say it entrenches one-man rule.

A public vote on the issue is expected by mid-April, according to officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.