Greece

POLITICAL PARTIES IN GREECE

 

Greek political parties

The civil war that followed the end of World War Two in Greece affected dramatically Greek politics for many years. The political field of Greece from the early 50's until the Greek military dictatorship in 1967 was divided into three major political streams, the Conservative front under the leadership firstly by General Papagos with the party Ellinikos Synagermos (Greek Rally) and later by Konstantinos Karamanlis with ERE (Greek radical union). The Liberals with the party of the Liberals (Fileleftheroi) of Sofoklis Venizelos followed by Enosis Kentrou (Union of the Centre) in 1961 under the leadership of Georgios Papandreou , and the broad left mainly represented by the party of EDA (United Democratic Left) under the leadership of Ilias Iliou. The dramatic events of this period started with the assassination of Grigoris Lambrakis, who was a prominent member of the Left, in Thessaloniki in 1963.
The assassination of Lambrakis coincided with the fall of the Conservative government after the resignation and self exile in France of its leader Konstantinos Karamanlis and the victory of Georgios Papanndreou with his party Enosis Kentrou in the elections of the same year. During the short time of the Georgios Papandreou government, Greece made great progress towards the establishment of a more Democratic regime, unfortunately the events of July 1965 (engineered by the Greek Monarchy) split the party and gave a green light for the establishment of the seven years of Military Dictatorship in Greece1967-1974 which was one of the main causes behind the drama and splitting of Cyprus.
Today, with the end of the cold war and, as the times and world politics have changed so in Greece, the political climate and political parties are completely different than they were 40 years ago.

PASOKThe leading party of Greece today is is the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and its founder is Andreas Papandreou. PASOK was created on the 3rd of September 1974 with the friction of the resistance movement of Andreas Papandreou PAK (Pan-Hellenic Liberation Movement ), Dimokratiki Amyna (Democratic resistance) and many other Greeks of the old Enosi Kentrou (Union of the Centre) and the broad left. With its manifesto, the Party achieves to unite thousands of Greeks with the political ideal of social changes, emancipation, sovereignty and Democracy. With the famous political slogan, 'Allagi' (Change) Pasok won the national elections in 1981 with a huge majority. After the death of its leader and founder, the President of the Party became Kostas Simitis. Today's leader of Pasok and prime minister of Greece is the son of Andreas Papandreou, George Papandreou.

Nea democratiaThe second largest party of Greece  is Nea Dimokratia (New Democracy), it represents the liberal-conservative stream in Greece with leader and Prime Minister of Greece Kostas Karamanlis. The founder of the Party is Konstantinos Karamanlis former leader of the ERE party and the uncle of today's Party leader. The Party was created in 1974 after his return to Greece from a long period of self exile in France. The Party had many leaders from 1974 until today, after Karamanlis became President of Greece the party leadership went to Georgios Rallis then, for a short period, to Evagellos Averof and then to Konstantinos Mitsotakis. He was followed by Miltiadis Evert and finally, to its leader today, Kosta Karamanli. 

KKEThe third largest and oldest party of Greece is the Greek Communist Party (KKE). The history of the Greek Communist Party has effected dramatically the history of Modern Greece. It was founded in 1918 under the name Socialist Labour Party of Greece and since then was the avant-garde to all struggles of the labour and agricultural classes of Greece. KKE fought fascism and imperialism during both world wars and resisted the military dictatorship of Ioannis Metaxas. It was the largest resistance movement (EAM Greek liberation front) during the Nazi occupation of Greece . Thousands of its members together with many other Greek Democrats and resistance fighters were executed, imprisoned or sent to concetration camps by the Nazis. The same happened also during the dictatorship of Metaxas and the dictatorship of the Greek colonels in the period 1967-74. The civil war that followed World War Two resulted in the banning of the Greek Communist party and it wasn't until 1974 that it was finally legalised. Among its famous political and military leaders was Markos Vafiadis, Nikos Zachariadis, Aris Velouhiotis, Stefanos Sarafis, Vasilis Samariniotis, Nikos Belogiannis, Charilaos Florakis. Today's general secretary of the Greek Communist Party is Aleka Papariga.

The fourth largest party of Greece  is LAOS with leader George Karatzaferis. The party represents several conservative and religious ideologies of the right wing. During the latest national elections increased its power with 15 seats in the Greek Parliament.

SYRIZAThe fifth largest party is Syriza.The party of Syriza today is a broad union of the left, together with ecologists and other progressive movements. Its bigger part though was created in 1968 after the split of the Greek Communist Party. Its name after the splitting was KKE Esoterikou (Communist Party of Greece of the Interior) . Its political youth 'Rigas Fereos' was one of the most active resistance groups during the dictatorship. In 1987 the party was split and a new party created under the name EAR (United Left). The first leader of this Party was Leonidas Kyrkos. This Party followed the new European communist ideas that had been followed by the Italian Communist party and its leader Enrico Berlinguer; the Spanish Communist party of Santiago Carrillo; and the French communist party of Georges Marchais. (At this point I would like to mention that I was lucky enough to attend a public speech by Enrico Berlinguer and George Marchais back in the 70's when I was studying at the university of Paris VIII Vincennes) In 1992 EAR amalgamates with the Party of Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) which later made a coalition with other smaller parties that formed today's Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left). Its new president, voted in only a few days ago, is Alexis Tsipras, aged only 33 years and one of the youngest party leaders in the world. After its election, several polls showed an amazing increase of the popularity of SyRiZa.

During the national elections of October 2009 the Green Ecologists  became the sixth largest party of Greece failing though to enter to the Greek parliament with their 2.53% (a party to enter the parliament needs 3% of the votes) .

Outside of the Greek Parliament there are several smaller Marxist-Leninist parties that mostly were created after the split of the KKE. It is also worth mentioning is the Liberal Party of Vassilis Leventis, who has for the last 20 years tried to resurrect the old Central Union with his party known as Enosis Kentroon (Union of the Centrals). Another party that always brings a entertaining break in the usually loud Greek National Elections is the Ecological Party of Demosthenes Vergis a lover of the nature and the beauty of life.

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