Greece’s New Democracy – Modernizing Greek Politics
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New Democracy is one of the most successful political parties in Greece over the fifty years. The current prime minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is a member of New Democracy as was the previous prime minister, Ioannis Plakiotakis.
New Democracy is described as an organization with a center-right platform and is one of the two major parties of Greece. Its primary opposition is PASOK, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement. The latter party is described as “leftist” and which identifies itself as “social-democratic.” It has been instrumental in helping Greece modernize its political climate:
History of the New Democracy Party
The New Democracy party was founded in 1974 by a towering figure in modern Greek politics, Konstantinos G. Karamanlis. Born in 1908, he served as the prime minister of Greece four times and was twice elected president of the Third Hellenic Republic. Karamanlis led Greece as prime minister from 1955 to 1963. He won another term in 1974.
Karamanlis founded New Democracy because he wanted to modernize Greek politics and move it away from the radical-right policies that had controlled the nation under a military junta. The junta was called the “Regime of the Colonels.” It had control of Greece between 1967 and 1974. This government was toppled via a coup d’état during a tumultuous period when Greece was on the verge of a war with Turkey.
At the time, former Prime Minister Konstantinos G. Karamanlis was living in France having retired from Greek politics. Powerful political figures urged Karamanlis to return to Greece to fill the leadership vacuum created in the aftermath of the coup. Karamanlis agreed to come back. He then went right to work by forming a new political party. This would be New Democracy.
Since it got started, the New Democracy party has accomplished these major goals:
Established Free and Fair Elections
A top priority for Karamanlis was to bring free and fair elections back to Greece after military rule. Because he assumed power after the defeat of a military junta via a coup, it was urgent that democratic elections be held as soon as possible. That was achieved and was the first major accomplishment of the party
Abolished the Monarchy
The second major accomplishment of Karamanlis and the New Democracy would be the abolishment of the outdated and outmoded Greek monarchy. With majority support from the voting public, the monarchy was dissolved, and Greece officially became a western-style republic.
Implemented a New Constitution
The party pushed forward to write a new constitution. The Constitution of Greece was ratified in 1975. This constitution has been essential in helping Greece and modernizing the country.
Joined the European Union
New Democracy leaders applied to membership in what was then called the European Communities. It had already been an associate member since 1961. It was admitted into the Council of Europe in November of 1974.
Ushering In a New Era
With these four goals accomplished, Greece and the New Democracy had ushered in a historic new era for the ancient nation of Greece. It now had established a form of government comparable to the modern liberal-progressive nations of Europe, although Greece maintained a leaning more to the right than, say, Sweden or Norway.
However, Greece aspired to provide social programs for its citizens similar to European Union nations with things like free universal health care, free public education and a robust social safety net.
Categorized in: Modern Greek History
This post was written by Greek Boston