World Bulletin / News Desk
"From the coming Monday, we will start to debate our constitutional-change bill in parliament," Binali Yildirim told a Justice and Development (AK) Party parliamentary group meeting Tuesday.
Yildirim's remarks came after Turkey’s opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli earlier committed himself to backing the bill.
Responding to journalists’ questions after a MHP parliamentary group meeting in Ankara, Bahceli said: "I will give a Yes vote to the new constitutional bill and I will repeat it in the referendum."
Constitutional change -- in particular, the call for a presidential system -- has been on the political agenda since Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former prime minister and AK Party leader, was elected Turkey's president in August 2014.
The Turkish government has said it would put the constitutional changes to a referendum, even if the proposals gained enough support from lawmakers to pass through parliament.
The new bill needs 330 votes to pave the way for a referendum.
Turkey's AK Party has 316 seats and the MHP has 40 seats in the parliament.
Two other opposition groups in parliament -- the People’s Republican Party (CHP) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) -- remain opposed to the presidential system.
In the current parliamentary model, the Turkish electorate votes for 550 lawmakers. A government is formed by a minimum number of 276 members of parliament.
In the proposed presidential system, the electorate would vote for a person to form a government independently of parliament, with no need for a vote of confidence.