Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already begun campaigning for the referendum that would make drastic constitutional reforms, turning the system into a Presidential one. One of the results would be that Mr Erdogan will be able to stand in two more election cycles, potentially governing as a powerful executive until 2029.

The reforms – which would significantly increase the powers of office of the president – received the required three-fifth majority in the assembly, surprising the opposition which had hoped to resist this consolidation of power. Mr Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) seems to have campaigned well, and now the only thing that stands between the way of Erdogan and an authoritarian government under his command, is the will of the people in a referendum. His opponents and critics do not possess the unity and coordination to fight off this challenge.

The model proposed by Turkey lacks the safety mechanisms of checks and balances present in other countries like the United States. The office of the prime minister disappears, making way for a strong, executive president. The president would have the power to appoint cabinet ministers without requiring a confidence vote from parliament, propose budgets and appoint more than half the members of the highest judicial body. The president would also have the power to dissolve the national assembly and impose states of emergency. Erdogan could become the head of state, the head of government and the head of the ruling party. The proposed changes transfer powers traditionally held by the national assembly to the presidency, rendering it a largely advisory body.

This looks like the end of the “Kemalist dream”, as Erdogan seeks to reverse the broad legacy of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded modern Turkey in 1923. Until a decade ago, Turkey was a model of a modern Muslim republic, with a booming economy, a well-established secular polity and a steadily maturing democracy with a decidedly Western orientation, and membership of the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on the cards. The increasing authoritarianism, nationalism and Islamisation evokes memories of Zia-ul-Haq, and other dictators who sought to change to the constitution to extend and legitimise their rule.