Modern Greek History

Learn About the Greek Constitution of 1844

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After the Greek War for Independence, the people of Greece were motivated to create their independence. There were several attempts to create a new government, including the task of drafting a constitution. The Kingdom of Greece ended its reign of absolute monarchy with the implementation of The Greek Constitution of 1844. This was the first step towards giving the people of Greece a voice in their own nation, though it was long from solidified upon its execution. Here’s more information about this:

Greece Was Under Ottoman Rule

From 1832 until 1843, Greece had been under the autocratic rule of what became known as the Ottoman Empire. King Otto, the son of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, began his reign as a minor and governed Greece alongside a regency council consisting of Bavarian court officials until he became of age.

When that came to pass, he relieved the council of their duties and began operating as an absolute monarchy. He held sole possession of the powers of state and, thus, decreed all the laws.

About the Greek Constitution of 1844

For several years, he avoided putting forth a constitution, until he could no longer ignore the discontent coming from the people of his kingdom. In 1843, a revolution evolved as the Greek citizens demanded a say in the policies of their country. Joining in a military coup with the garrison of Athens, the people forced King Otto to finally construct the constitution he had been promising. The National Assembly of Athens promulgated The Constitution of 1844, which was assembled following examples given by the French Constitution of 1830 and the 1831 Belgian Constitution.

Though the constitution did illustrate a triad of government, it did not force the monarchy to relinquish its decisive powers. The king retained the legislative power, giving him the final word on all laws sent forth by the other two government branches: The Parliament and the Senate. The king was responsible for choosing the 27 members of the Senate, all whom were granted with a lifetime appointment. The monarchy was also able to put forth additional members as desired. In contrast, the Parliament positions held term-limits of three years and were voted in by the Greek citizens.

Judges, or ministers as they were referred, were chosen solely by the king and their decisions were sent down from the monarchy itself, thus producing an autocratic bias in justice.

Universal Suffrage for Greeks

Electoral laws were included in this Constitution, which was a first among European nations. All Greek men of age were granted universal suffrage rights with the implementation of the vote. Greek women were exempt from this right and did not obtain it until well into the 20th century. Though the monarchy was firmly established and could not be ousted by ballot, citizens did vote in the members of Parliament which allowed them a small voice in Greek policy.

King Otto’s reluctant proclamation of the constitution was evident in his inconsistencies with which he carried it out. Focused solely on his own power, he chose which aspects to respect and which to ignore, thus rendering the entire contract ineffectual. In 1862, after nearly two decades battling this power struggle, the citizens of Greece joined their military once again to rebel. A Provisional Government was erected and King Otto was deposed and sent into exile. The Ottoman Empire was officially over.


Wikipedia – Greek Constitution of 1844

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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