Greece History – The Return to Democracy Part I

In 1979 it was decided to join the EEC, operational since 1981. On May 5, 1980, Karamanlìs was elected president of the Republic, and the office of prime minister passed to Greece Ràllis, also a member of the New Democracy (ND) party. The elections of 1981 assigned the majority to the main opposition party, the PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement); the socialist government of A. Papandrèu he enacted a series of reform measures and obtained an interpretation more favorable to Hellenic interests in the Treaty of Accession to the EEC; but, confirmed in the early elections of 1985, he adopted an austerity program that radicalized the trade union movement and raised the communist opposition, with the effect of strengthening ND. To the difficulties of the government were added the allegations of embezzlement and corruption made by ND, until the scandal of the Bank of Crete (1988) involved Papandrèu himself.

After the possibility of establishing stable majorities did not emerge from the two successive political elections of 1989, the 1990 elections ensured a majority in ND, who formed a government chaired by K. Mitsotàkis and brought Karamanlìs back to the presidency of the Republic. In 1992 Papandrèu returned to the leadership of the government, successfully committing himself to the resumption of diplomatic relations (1995) with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, critical since 1991, when Greece had opposed the recognition of the Macedonian state born following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, out of fear of possible territorial claims against Greek Macedonia.

In 1996 K. Simìtis, supporter of a profound renewal of the party, replaced the outgoing Papandrèu at the head of the government. His government, reconfirmed in 2000, led Greece to join the single European currency in January 2001 while, on the international level, the rapprochement with Turkey was sanctioned in 1999 by the fall of the Athens veto on Turkey’s entry into the European Union. and in 2002 by a historic agreement between the two countries for the construction of a gas pipeline to supply Greece. The government was faced with growing discontent as the strict policy to enter the euro area had the downside of slowing economic growth.. In December 2003 Simìtis left the presidency of PASOK and was replaced by Greece Papandrèu, son of Andrèas. The early elections of March 2004 saw the socialist defeat and the affirmation of ND, led by K. Karamanlìs, grandson of Konstantìnos. The new government launched an ambitious plan to modernize and sell the productive sectors that remained publicly owned, but had to face a social and economic situation characterized by widespread unemployment and high inflation rates. Between 2005 and 2006, in a climate of confrontation with the trade unions, Parliament approved new labor laws that introduced greater flexibility and the possibility of firing even in the public sector. In February 2005, K. Papoùlias, a socialist exponent and former foreign minister, was elected president. In February 2007 the government, after risking parliamentary mistrust, re-launched its commitment to a reform course with accelerated stages. However, the deteriorating economic situation has raised widespread discontent, which resulted from 2008 in a succession of strikes and protests and finally in the resignation of the government. After the elections won by PASOK, in October 2009 Greece Papandrèu was appointed premier, but the installation of a new executive was not enough to heal the crisis, which indeed worsened during 2010 despite the allocation by of the European Union for an aid package of 110 billion euros to be paid over three years. The austerity program launched by the government in 2011 has sparked new waves of general strikes, while on the international level the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have envisaged a further aid plan, linked to the implementation of austerity measures and privatizations. After announcing in the October of the same year the calling of a referendum, later canceled, aimed at verifying the existence of a broad consensus regarding the rescue plan, this causing heavy repercussions on world markets and a harsh reaction from the European Union, in the The following November, Prime Minister Papandrèu resigned in favor of a coalition government of which the economist and former president of the European Central Bank L. Papademos was appointed prime minister. In February 2012, the executive approved the new austerity measures (including a radical reform of the labor market, with a decrease of more than 20% of the guaranteed minimum wages, substantial cuts in public spending, especially in the health and defense sectors and a new privatization policy) has sparked violent street clashes in the capital. In the political elections held in May 2012 ND imposed itself as the first party in the country obtaining 18.8 of the votes, corresponding to 108 seats in Parliament, but not reaching an absolute majority; the second political force was the formation of the radical left Syriza, which recorded 16.7% of the consensus imposing itself on the PASOK socialists (13.2%), while the neo-fascist party Chrysi Avyi entered Parliament for the first time (7%). This picture of precarious balances and strong tensions forced the President of the Republic Papoúlias to try to form a coalition government in order to avoid new elections, following the formal resignation of the PASOK leader E. Venizelos who resigned his mandate after the previous failures of A. Samaras, leader of ND, and A. Tsipras, leader of Syriza. These attempts having failed, Papoúlias appointed premier ad interim the president of the Council of State P. Pikrammenos. The new elections held in June saw the victory of the pro-euro ND party, which won 29.7% of the votes against Syriza’s 26.9% and PASOK’s 12.3%; not having won an absolute majority, the Samaras party formed a coalition government with PASOK and the Democratic Left (DIMAR); in the following July, the government led by Samaras obtained the confidence of Parliament with 179 votes out of 300. The new government of national unity asked for the shift from 2014 to 2016 of the date by which to achieve the budgetary targets set by the European Union. In June 2013, one year after the formation of the tripartite coalition and after DIMAR’s exit from the government due to the closure of the radio and television station Ert.

Greece History - The Return to Democracy 1