Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan adjusts earphones during a news conference in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, Sept. 5, 2016. REUTERS/DAMIR SAGOLJ

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) submitted a bill to the parliament Saturday proposing a constitutional reform that would give more power to the presidency and dilute the role of the parliament. The 21-article legislation could potentially result in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan extending his rule for two five-year terms ending in 2029.

The bill — which could potentially transform Ankara’s political framework from a parliamentary system to a presidential one — if passed, would then face a national referendum likely to be held in the spring or summer of 2017. If the results of the referendum are in favor of the changes, they would be implemented in 2019.

“God willing, this will be the start of a new era,” Erdoğan reportedly said at a rally in Istanbul just before his party introduced the bill at the parliament in Ankara.

Erdoğan is Turkey’s first president elected by popular vote in 2014. He previously served three terms as the nation’s prime minister. The once-ceremonial role has been transformed by the popular vote, Erdoğan said.

Chairman of the parliament’s Constitutional Commission Ahmet Iyimaya said Turkey already has a “partial executive presidency.”

“Turkey has moved away from the parliamentary system towards a presidential system following the constitutional changes in 2007 and 2010. So this is necessary move,” Iyimaya, a member of the AK Party, told Al Jazeera. “The coalition governments in the Turkish parliamentary system took so much from this country, wasting so much time. They could not solve any of the issues this country faced.”

Erdoğan had repeatedly blamed the country’s coalition governments for Turkey’s economic downfall and instability. Turkey’s economic slump has caused the lira to fall to record lows. Meanwhile, the government is working toward cracking down on dissidents, who the AK Party alleged belong to opposition parties, after the failed coup earlier in July.

However, critics fear the passage of the bill, long sought after by Erdoğan, would erode democracy and establish a “dictatorship” in Turkey.

“This is a dictatorship project, an undertaking to monopolize all of the state’s powers,” Bulent Tezcan, deputy chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said.

CHP MP and a human rights lawyer Mustafa Sezgin Tanrikulu told Al Jazeera that the bill would “pool power in one person at a dangerous level and pave the way for an authoritarian regime.”

“This text gives one person the state’s whole executive power, some legislative powers through decrees and judicial powers - through appointments. This is a bill that will move Turkey away from the principles of democracy and the rule of law,” he said.