PASOK turns 40

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), the centre left governing party of Greece, turned 40 this week.The Movement, as its members and supporters call the party, was founded on 3 September 1974 by Andreas Papandreou, a distinguished professor of economics in the USA in the 1950s and early 1960s and the son of the late Greek centrist leader and three-times Prime Minister of Greece Georgios Papandreou Sr. The founding mottos of the party were national independence, popular sovereignty and social emancipation. Andreas Papandreou, a powerful orator and a charismatic leader, explicitly rejected the ideological heritage and the party of his father (where he was a government member in the mid-1960s) after the restoration of democracy in Greece in July 1974 and went on to form his own socialist party.At the November 1974 elections, PASOK received only 13.6 per cent of the vote and won 13 seats (out of 300), coming third behind the centre-right New Democracy of Konstantinos Karamanlis and the Centre Union-New Forces (EK-ND) of Georgios Mavros, the successor party of the ‘old’ Centre Union led by Papandreou’s father. At the November 1977 elections, however, PASOK doubled its share of the vote (25.3 per cent), won 93 seats, and became the main opposition party. Andreas Papandreou’s governmentsAt the 18 October 1981 parliamentary elections PASOK won a landslide victory with 48.1 per cent of the vote and 172 seats, thus forming the first socialist government in the history of Greece since the mid-1920s. Although Andreas Papandreou had campaigned for the withdrawal of Greece from NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC), once in power he changed his policy towards both institutions. During PASOK’s first government, civil marriages were recognised as equally valid with religious weddings, the left-wing Resistance movement against the Axis in World War II was recognised and left resistance fighters were given state pensions, while political refugees of the Greek Civil War were finally given permission to return to Greece. The National Health System was created, various repressive laws of the anti-communist post-war period were abolished, wages were boosted, a multidimensional foreign policy was pursued, and many reforms in Family Law strengthened the rights of Greek women. At the June 1985 elections PASOK was returned to power by winning 45.8 per cent of the vote.Andreas Papandreou’s government continued to be popular for much of its second term, especially in March 1987, when he successfully handled a crisis in the Aegean Sea with Turkey. By late 1988 however, both the government’s popularity and Papandreou’s health had declined. Responsible for this turn of events were press reports of financial and corruption scandals, implicating ministers and, allegedly, Andreas Papandreou himself, as well as the imposition of fiscal austerity measures. PASOK lost the June 1989 elections with 39.2 per cent of the vote, while the opposing New Democracy won 44.3 per cent. PASOK’s changes to the electoral law though, before the elections, made it harder for the leading party to form a majority government, so a coalition government between the conservative New Democracy and the left wing Coalition of the Left and Progress was formed, led by one of the most liberal conservatives, Tzanis Tzanetakis. Another election in November 1989 produced a very similar result and a tripartite ‘ecumenical’ government made up of New Democracy, PASOK and the Coalition of the Left and Progress, led by veteran professor of economics Xenophon Zolotas . A third election in April 1990 brought New Democracy back to power and Constantine Mitsotakis became prime minister. Despite winning 46.9 per cent of the popular vote though, New Democracy could only secure a marginal majority in the Hellenic parliament.In opposition, PASOK underwent a leadership crisis when Andreas Papandreou was prosecuted over his supposed involvement in a Bank (of Crete) scandal. He was eventually acquitted and, in a reversal of fortunes, at the October 1993 elections, he led his party to another landslide victory. He returned to office with 46.9 per cent of the vote, and his re-election was considered by many a vote of confidence of the public against his prosecution. In November 1995, however, Papandreou’s health began to deteriorate and the party was racked with leadership conflicts.The ‘modernisation’ periodIn January 1996 Andreas Papandreou retired after a protracted three-month long hospitalisation.He was succeeded by Costas Simitis, the candidate of the modernising, pro-European wing of PASOK (the so-called ‘modernisers’, who won an internal vote against Akis Tsochatzopoulos, a Papandreou confidant. In a PASOK conference in the summer of 1996, following Andreas Papandreou’s death, Costas Simitis was elected leader of the party and called early elections, seeking a renewed public vote of confidence. Although the crisis with Turkey over the Imia islets in the Aegean Sea, in January 1996, had somewhat tarnished his image, the country’s economic prosperity and his matter-of-fact administration won him the September 1996 general election with 41.5 per cent of the vote. Under Costas Simitis’ leadership, PASOK had two major successes. In September 1997 Greece won the right to stage the 2004 Athens Summer Olympic Games and in January 2001 it managed to enter the Eurozone. Costas Simitis won another term in April 2000, narrowly winning with 43.8 per cent of the vote and 158 seats.In the early 2000s though, the party was losing its traditional appeal to the Greek lower and middle classes. In order to revitalise PASOK’s chances for the next elections, Costas Simitis announced his resignation as the leader on January 2004. He was succeeded by George Papandreou, son of Andreas Papandreou. George Papandreou’s years Although George Papandreou reduced New Democracy’s lead in the polls he was unable to reverse the view of a majority of Greek voters that PASOK had been in power too long, had grown lazy, corrupt and had abandoned the inclusive, progressive principles of economic parity on which it was founded. Conservative New Democracy, led by Constantine Karamanlis, a nephew of the founder of the party, had a comfortable win ( 45.4 per cent) in March 2004, the election placing PASOK in opposition after eleven years in office with 40.6 per cent share of the vote.In September 2007 New Democracy won re-election with a marginal majority of 152 seats in the parliament. Despite ND’s falling performance, PASOK suffered a crushing defeat, gaining 38.1 per cent of the vote, its lowest percentage in almost 30 years.During the party leadership election of 11 November 2007 George Papandreou was re-elected by the friends and members of the party as leader, and he led PASOK in the June 2009 European Parliament election to a win, whilst four months later, the party enjoyed a resounding victory in the October 2009 general elections, winning 43.9 per cent of the popular vote to ND’s 33.5 per cent.The electoral annihilation of 2012The Great Financial Crisis of 2008-2009, and the inability of the Greek state to secure foreign loans from the markets, in order to meet its needs and obligations towards its own citizens but also towards its lenders, obliged George Papandreou’s government (2009-2011) to seek loans from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank and led to the compulsory imposition of austerity measures. As a result of this, PASOK, having been the largest party in an outgoing coalition government in May 2012, under the leadership of Evangelos Venizelos (elected in March 2012), achieved only third place in the elections with a mere 13.2 per cent.The parliamentary elections of June 2012 resulted in a further reduction in PASOK’s popular support. PASOK’s percentage of the vote was its worst ever showing since the party was formed (12.3 per cent). However, the party decided to help in the formation of a government by joining with New Democracy as well as the Democratic Left in a coalition under Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. Today, PASOK is the junior coalition partner in a government run by New Democracy.last_img read more

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