All About the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK)
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The Panhellenic Socialist Movement was founded at the end of the Greek military dictatorship that ran from 1967 until 1974. On September 3 of that year, Andreas Papandreou created the organization as a left wing, social-democrat party. The founding members of the party were instrumental in the collapse of the military junta and the restoration of democracy in Greece.
Its principles, reflected in the party motto, were popular sovereignty and the democratic process as well as national independence and social emancipation. Gaining only 15 seats in parliament that first year, PASOK would win a majority in 1981 to become the first left-of-center party to rule Greece since the 1920s. As a result, it became one of the most influential political parties in Greece for almost four decades. Here’s more information:
PASOK Reforms and Achievements
Once in power, PASAOK was able to amend the country’s constitution to increase the powers of the prime minster while reducing those of the president. They recognized civil marriages as being on par with religious ceremonies. The PASOK-controlled government also honored and gave pensions to left-wing resistance fighters from World War II and allowed Greek Civil War political refugees to return home. PASOK oversaw the institution of a national health system, reformed family law that strengthened the rights of women and boosted workers’ wages.
Over the ensuing decades, PASOK would battle its main rival the New Democracy Party for control of parliament. PASOK’s popularity suffered because of political scandals and economic turmoil during the 1980s. The following decade, a period referred to as the “modernization,” PASOK became more pro-European. Under the direction of Costas Simitis, the Greek economy prospered, Athens won the right to host the 2004 Summer Olympics and Greece was finally admitted into the eurozone. In 2000, PASOK had been in power most of the last two decades but was beginning to lose the support of the country’s lower and middle classes.
Decline in Influence
Simitis resigned as head of the party and was replaced by George Papandreou, son of Andreas. Despite the change in leadership, PASOK’s popularity waned as Greek voters felt that the party had been in power too long and had abandoned some of its founding principles. It did manage to win the 2009 general elections, but its success was fleeting. PASOK lost significant popular support because of the Greek debt crisis that arose from the financial calamity of 2008.
When the trouble started, PASOK was the ruling majority party in parliament. Under the leadership of George Papandreou, the government engaged in unprecedented austerity measures that were extremely unpopular. PASOK went from the largest party with 160 seats in parliament to the smallest with only 13 of 300 seats. In 2012, Greek President Karolos Papoulias requested that the New Democracy Party form a coalition government thereby ending PASOK’s rule.
PASOK has since tried to play a role in various coalition governments and form alliances with other political parties with limited success. As of 2015, the majority of Greek voters have a negative opinion of PASOK.
Categorized in: Modern Greek History
This post was written by Greek Boston