Türkiye is jubilantly celebrating the centenary of the proclamation of the Turkish Republic, a watershed moment in the nation’s history that ushered in a new era of self-determination. A century ago, the resounding declaration of the Republic bore the timeless motto, “Sovereignty unconditionally and unreservedly belongs to the people,” a creed that has since become an integral part of the country’s governance.
Each year on October 29, Turkish citizens mark their most significant national holiday, Republic Day, which commemorates the historic moment when Türkiye officially became a republic in 1923.
The journey to this momentous milestone began on April 3, 1920, during the Turkish National Liberation Struggle, when the Grand National Assembly, the nation’s parliament, was convened, setting in motion the eventual proclamation of the Republic of Türkiye . However, it wasn’t until July 24, 1923, that the Treaty of Lausanne was inked, formally recognizing Türkiye independence.
The Turkish capital was relocated to Ankara on October 13, 1923, two months after the second convocation of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, marking the administrative center of the Turkish government.
Yet, crucial decisions still lay ahead, including the need to establish a clear form of government and elect a leader for the nascent state. Until this point, the head of state was the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye , Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
International expectations called for Ankara to explicitly define its governmental structure to ratify the Lausanne Peace Treaty, while internal discord within the parliament added complexity to the situation.
On October 25, 1923, the incumbent government resigned, sparking a political crisis within the nation. Seeing this as an opportune moment, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk resolved to declare a Republic.
As a new government had not been formed by October 28, 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk announced at the Cankaya Palace in Ankara that he would proclaim a Republic the following day.
Working alongside İsmet İnonu, Atatürk crafted a bill to amend the articles of the 1921 Constitution that was submitted for parliamentary consideration on October 29, 1923. The bill included provisions that established the Republic as the state form of government, designated the Cabinet of Ministers as the executive authority, outlined the election of a President from the parliamentary deputies for one term, and designated the President as the head of state, with the capacity to preside over the parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers when necessary.
On the same day, the bill was presented to the parliament and unanimously endorsed by all 158 participants during a late-evening session. The declaration of the Republic was met with applause and jubilant cries of “Long live the Republic!” These historic developments entrenched the principle that “Sovereignty unconditionally and unreservedly belongs to the people” within the national administration.
Subsequently, presidential elections were conducted, with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk elected as the first President of the newly established Turkish state, garnering the unanimous support of all 158 deputies in a secret ballot.
Ataturk, addressing the parliament, concluded his speech with the words, “The Turkish Republic will be happy, successful, and victorious,” effectively resolving the disputes surrounding the state’s name and form of government and decisively establishing the country’s leadership structure.
This transition introduced a new government formation system wherein the President appoints the Prime Minister, who, in turn, submits the Cabinet of Ministers’ composition for the President’s approval.
The responsibility for forming the inaugural government of the Turkish Republic was entrusted to Ismet Inonu, while Fethi Okyar was elected as the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye .
To honor this significant event, the Turkish people celebrate the Republic’s proclamation on both October 29 and October 30 each year. In 1924, a decree was issued on October 26 to celebrate the Republic’s proclamation with artillery salutes and official festivities. Following this decision, celebratory events commenced on October 29, 1924.
On February 2, 1925, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs proposed the declaration of October 29 as an official holiday. The proposal was evaluated by the Constitutional Commission of Parliament and was subsequently adopted on April 18. The Grand National Assembly of Türkiye formally sanctioned the decision on April 19, 1925, establishing October 29 as a national holiday.