The bourgeois government returned from exile
after the Second World War. The contradictions to the
communist resistance movement EAM were great and led to
civil war. With American support for the government
side, the EAM was defeated in 1949, after Yugoslavia,
after its break with the Soviet Union, had cut off the
guerrilla's supply lines. The civil war demanded more
Greek lives than World War II, made hundreds of
thousands homeless, and forced tens of thousands to flee
to communist countries.
The US had a strong influence in Greece after the
war. US military bases were established and Greece
became a NATO member in 1951. During the 1950s, the US
pumped in money and industry was built up.
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Greece. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
The old contradictions between the right and the left
flared up again after the right-wing victory in 1961,
when the right was accused of electoral fraud. The
murder of left-wing politician Grigoris Lambrakis in
1963 forced Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis to
resign. After a new election in 1964, the center party
became the center union leader Georgios Papandreou prime
minister. His attempt to reform the right-wing armed
forces led to conflict between the government and the
royal house, and King Constantine forced Papandreou to
resign in 1965.
Provisional king-appointed governments ruled for two
years until new elections were announced until May 1967.
Papandreou was victorious, which worried the circuits
within the armed forces that regarded him as indulgent
against the communists. A month before the election,
some colonels with Georgios Papadopoulos at the head
conducted a coup d'état and introduced dictatorship.
King Constantine fled after a failed counterattack in
December 1967 but remained formally king until June
1973, when Papadopoulos proclaimed president.
Return to democracy
Political parties and trade unions were banned,
censorship was introduced and thousands of opposites
were imprisoned and tortured. Even more Greeks escaped.
In an internal power struggle, Papadopoulos was deposed
in November 1973 by the military police chief Dimitrios
Ioannidis. A civilian puppet government was appointed.
Student riots in Athens were brutally defeated by the
army. The collapse of the military junta came in July
1974 when it tried to conduct a coup d'état in Cyprus
and unite the island with Greece. The coup failed since
Turkey invaded Cyprus to protect the island's Turkish
population. Before the threat of war with Turkey, the
junta departed and Konstantinos Karamanlis was allowed
to return to form a civilian government. The junta
leaders were eventually brought to trial and several of
them were sentenced to death. The death penalty was
later converted to life imprisonment.
Karamanlis tried to create national reconciliation by
allowing the Communist Party, which has been banned
since 1947. His newly formed right-wing party
New Democracy gained its own majority in the
parliamentary elections in November 1974, and after a
referendum in December that year, the monarchy was
Karamanlis resigned in 1980 and was elected president
after first securing Greece's membership of the EC (now
the EU) until January 1, 1981.
In the 1981 parliamentary elections, the
Pasok Socialist Party defeated
leader Andreas Papandreou, son of Georgios. Pasok
initially wanted to move Greece out of the EC and NATO
and close the US military bases, but soon gave up these
efforts. Pasok reformed family policy, education and
health care but downplayed its plans to nationalize the
New democracy and Pasok take turns in power
The party retained power in the 1985 elections, but
the government was weakened by protests against
financial austerity and by several scandals, including
illegal telephone interception and embezzlement from
Crete's bank. The scandals and protests forced
Papandreou to resign in 1989.
Provisional governments ruled until New Democracy,
now led by Konstantinos Mitsotakis, triumphed in the
1990 elections. Hundreds of government companies were
offered for sale. Several strikes were triggered in the
public sector, at the same time as New Democracy was
also involved in corruption scandals. In 1993, a new
election was held and Pasok returned to power. The party
now expressed formal support for the EU and NATO and
continued the privatization programs.
Andreas Papandreou had been cleared in court of the
allegations of involvement in the scandals that had
befallen his previous government. Two former ministers
were sentenced to mild sentences. Papandreou's continued
time as head of government was marked by his faltering
health and the wear and tear of Pasok between a faction
loyal to Papandreou and another more market-friendly and
EU-oriented group that demanded that the party be
modernized. Leading in the latter faction was the
Minister of Industry, Professor Kostas (Konstantinos)
Simitis, who left in September 1995 both the government
and the party leadership.
Papandreou was succeeded as head of government in
1996 by Kostas Simitis, who replaced several ministers
with more EU-friendly and reform-minded politicians.
When Papandreou passed away, Simitis also became a party
leader and announced parliamentary elections in
September 1996 to get the electoral mandate for his
reform policy. Pasok retained the government
Greece joins EMU
An important target for the new government was Greek
membership in the EU's Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)
from its inception in 1999. In order to meet EMU's
demands for lower inflation and smaller budget deficits,
a strict austerity policy was implemented with cuts in
the public sector and increased taxes.. Despite protest
strikes, austerity continued in 1997 and 1998. Greece
failed to reach an EMU membership in 1999, but won entry
into the euro zone in 2001 (see Finance).
Apart from the economy, the conflict with Turkey was
high on the government's agenda. Around the turn of the
century, there was a noticeable improvement in
relations, including since the two countries cooperated
on emergency aid after the severe earthquakes hit both
of them in the fall of 1999 (see Foreign Policy and
When Prime Minister Simitis announced parliamentary
elections in April 2000, Pasok was hardly a favorite.
The economic success of the ruling party had led to
increased popularity in the middle class and in
business. The improved relations with Turkey were also
greeted with the delight of most Greeks.
At the same time, rising unemployment and crime as
well as widespread corruption were a concern for Pasok.
The party had lost support in the poor regions, where
the cuts in the public sector and in social policy had
Good economic development
In the election, Pasok won by a small margin over New
Democracy, which advanced sharply. Pasok's resignation
continued during the next term and led Prime Minister
Simitis in 2004 to hand over party leadership to Foreign
Minister Giorgos Papandreou, grandson to former Prime
Minister Georgios Papandreou and son to Andreas
At the same time, Simitis announced parliamentary
elections until March 2004. The two parties went to
elections on substantially the same promises: education
reform, increased employment, reduced income tax,
reduced bureaucracy and other measures that would
benefit investment. The election became a victory for
New Democracy, whose leader Kostas (Konstantinos)
Karamanlis became new prime minister.
An important task for the new government was to
ensure that the Olympic Games, held in Greece in August
2004, were well implemented. Despite criticism in the
spring and early summer for lack of security and delayed
construction projects, the sporting event was conducted
without serious incidents and was considered to have
held high class.
During the 2004–2007 term of office, the government
found it difficult to implement its policy despite New
Democracy having its own majority in Parliament. Among
other things, the attempts to stop higher education
(mainly allowing private universities) and the costly
pension system were stopped. By contrast, laws were
passed to streamline administration and reduce
corruption. However, the government's reputation in this
matter was damaged in the spring of 2007 when it was
revealed that managers of the state pension funds had
been cheating large sums. The government, on the other
hand, was pleased with strong economic growth, improved
government finances and falling unemployment.
Forest fires affect election movement
The dry and hot summer of 2007 caused severe forest
fires to ravage in several places. The government was
criticized, among other things, for not being guilty of
incendiary fires. In August, when the first heat wave
had subsided, Karamanli's parliamentary elections
announced in September the same year, six months earlier
than planned. The reason was assumed to be that New
Democracy's take on opinion polls had begun to decline.
When the election movement began later that month,
the heat had returned with new forest fires. 63 people
died in the worst fires in decades. Many of the fires
were set and several people were arrested. An emergency
permit was introduced and the electoral movement was
When the election movement resumed, the fires and
climate and environmental issues came into focus. But
despite fierce criticism from the opposition and the
public against the government for lack of crisis
preparedness, New Democracy managed to win the election.
The party gained a tight takeover in parliament. The
government thus survived but with a greatly weakened
Even before the election, the government had failed
to push through changes in the pension system. Despite
extensive strikes and demonstrations, a new attempt was
made in the spring of 2008. This time, Parliament
approved the proposal, which included, among other
things, reduced pensions and poorer opportunities for
Global financial crisis is affecting Greece
In the fall of 2008, the New Democratic parliamentary
majority shrank to an overweight position after
Karamanlis excluded a government-critical MP from the
party. The kicked-out member refused to give up his seat
and continued as an independent. At the same time, New
Democracy risked losing another mandate, as several of
the party's members were subject to corruption
investigations. The allegations included, among other
things, that the state would have sold state property
for cheap to a well-to-do monastery in the Monk Republic
of Athos (see Religion). The disclosure led to the
departure of two ministers.
The corruption allegations and the government's way
of dealing with the global financial crisis that erupted
in the fall of 2008, caused New Democracy to collapse in
opinion polls. During the autumn, a series of
demonstrations were held against the government's
savings policy. In connection with government hostile
riots in December, a fifteen-year-old boy was shot to
death by police, which increased concern.
The problem continued during 2009 with corruption
charges against a minister. When a new Democratic MP
dropped out in August, Karamanli's new election
announced in October. In the election campaign, Pasok
promised new major public initiatives, while New
Democracy said budgetary austerity and a freeze on
public wages would be necessary.
Pasok won the election, but New Democracy got it
right. Paso Governor Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou
and his government were forced to deal with a shrinking
government debt and rapidly growing budget deficit.
Demonstrations were held against government cuts, frozen
wages and increased taxes.
Support packages from the EU and the IMF
Greece's credit rating was at the bottom and market
interest rates were unreasonably high for a government
that needed to borrow € 110 billion - about SEK 1
trillion - in three years. Only when Germany agreed in
spring of one-fifth of the loans did it become a major
rescue package from the EU, the European Central Bank (ECB)
and the IMF.
The loans came with demands for continued austerity,
tax increases and eventually decisions about raising
retirement age (see Social conditions). But despite the
government's struggle to reduce the budget deficit, the
world's confidence in the Greek economy decreased, and
its credit rating dropped to a record low. After
Parliament approved new savings, in July 2011, the EU
decided on a second aid package.
However, when the crisis worsened during the autumn,
eurozone leaders pushed Europe's private banks to write
off half of their claims on Greece. The government
promised a new savings package, but when Papandreou
proposed a referendum on this triggered a government
crisis and he was forced to resign in November. A
cross-border coalition government temporarily took over.
Two new elections in 2012
In a new election in May 2012, the government parties
were punished for the crisis, but the election result
made a government formation impossible, and another new
election was held in June. Then New Democracy
won, followed by the left alliance
Syriza and with Pasok in a
distant third place. New Democratic leader Antonis
Samaras formed a government that continued with budget
cuts. It was dominated by New Democracy with the support
of Pasok and the Democratic Left.
The years 2012 and 2013 were marked by fierce
contradictions between Greece and the lenders regarding
In December 2014, Prime Minister Samaras decided to
postpone the presidential election that would have taken
place in Parliament in early 2015. When Parliament
failed three times to agree on a new president, Samaras
was required by the Constitution to dissolve Parliament
and announce new elections by the end of January 2015.
The re-election was a great success for Syriza, who
was able to form a government. The change of power
triggered a concern within the EU that the new
government would demand renegotiation of the loan
settlements (read on in Current Policy).