Modern Greek History

Developing Greece’s Modern Democracy

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Greek Parliament

Greek Parliament in Athens

Though the notion of a democracy was developed in Ancient Greece, the modern road to a democratic state was a long one. When the Turks occupied the Greeks, for example, the people had to endure oppression for hundreds of years. It was not a democratic state.

Once the Greek people became independent from Turkey, they had a chance to form a democratic government. However, this did not happen immediately. First King Otto of Bavaria and then King George from Denmark ruled Greece. These monarchies helped to stabilize Greece in the aftermath of the Ottoman occupation. Once the country stabilized it was ready to embrace change.

Greece also became involved in all of the major world wars. It wasn’t until after the Military Junta ended in the early 1970’s that a new democratic state could thrive. The people also had to endure a series of wars such as the Balkan Wars, World War I, and World War II.

Democracy’s Ancient History

The Ancient Greeks were well known for implementing democracy, particularly in Athens. Cleisthenes from Athens invented it in 507 BC. His goal was to create a system of government that would be ruled by the people. This idea of democracy is everlasting because everyone desires certain human rights. Athens is, perhaps, the best example of a democratic city-state.

Military Junta

Greece fell into unrest during the military junta and was ruled by a dictatorship that had Pappadopoulos in charge. As you can see, Greece has struggled to rule themselves independently. However, in 1973 this changed when Pappadopoulos was overthrown. But, rather than this move making things better, it was ultimately another dictator that came into power. The junta itself, however, ended up falling apart on its own.

United National Government

Almost immediately after the junta collapsed, Konstantin Karamanlis was brought into Greece out of exile in France. His goal was to be part of an interim government that didn’t necessarily last. However, this was a crucial stage because it helped people understand that a democratic state was on its way. For the first time in a while, the people felt excitement that their voices would be heard.

European Community and Elections

On January 1, 1981, Greece became the tenth country to enter into the European Union. Later on that year in October of 1981, elections were held to determine who would hold key positions. Andres Papandreou became prime minister and Christos Sartzetakis became a Supreme Court judge. Eventually, Greece embraced a socialist form of government.

Now, with Greece in the European Union and the Euro Zone, there is talk of some things changing, especially in the wake of the latest economic crisis. However, no matter what happens, the country will maintain its democratic roots.

Are you wondering how Greece’s democratic system got its start? It is often credited with a philosopher who made the observation that people wanted to be free to think and do what they want. They achieved their goal of establishing a Greek modern democracy.

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This post was written by Greek Boston