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Democracy In Greece: for How Long?

ISSUE:  Autumn 1975

Future historians who try to assess contemporary developments in Greece may be inclined to give a great deal of weight to the military junta that ruled the country from April 1967 until July 1974. They would be wrong. The junta, born in secrecy, comprised no more than about 50 officers. It remained throughout its reign true to its origins. It did not form a party; it did not create new national myths and slogans; it did not aspire to a “new” political ideology or try to appeal to any given social class; it never attempted to mobilize the masses in favor of traditional or new values; it hardly even tampered with the basic Greek institutions—the village, the church, the business community, the upper bourgeoisie or even the political elites and the army. It remained throughout its seven years of rule just as metallic and artificial as the insignia and the decorations of the officers in charge and gained no popular roots. In the literal sense of the term it was a “band of gangsters.” The manner in which it collapsed was itself an indication of its artificiality. The conspirators simply fell apart and asked the old political leaders to take over. Ironically enough, with the fall of the junta, the military establishment remained virtually intact; and in the inter-nation crises Greece is facing in its relations with Turkey, its weight is as ominous as before.

With this rather startling observation, we can begin to explore the prospects for democracy in Greece. Having fallen, the junta became a frightful nightmare that had been whisked away to allow a return to the status quo ante. The exiles came back; civil freedoms were restored; newspapers of all political colorations mushroomed; the political prisoners were released; the political parties and political leaders made their triumphant return to Athens. If the junta had left any lasting effect, it was in the way in which the Greeks now looked upon the United States and its role. Through a curious—but not unfamiliar—process of displacement, the Greeks saw behind the ugly facade of the military dictatorship the United States and the Central Intelligence Agency. Inevitably, they put the blame on the United States. This perception only added to the artificial and “foreign” character of the military regime. I was surprised to hear Greeks of all ages refer to the seven years of the military dictatorship as the “Katochi”—the “occupation”—a term specially reserved for the German occupation of the country during World War II. It was also characteristic of how superficial the reign of the junta had been to find everybody I talked with expressing his views with the utmost abandon—about Kissinger, the King, the military, the political leaders. Nobody was spared the scorching sarcasm and indignation as well as the subtle satire and irony of which Aristophanes would have been proud. With the conspirators gone, the dark shadows of repressiveness had melted away leaving no visible signs—except to the unfortunate ones who had lost relatives and children or who came broken and ill from the islands, the prisons and exile.

With the fall of the junta, Greece was facing once more the problems that had confronted the nation ever since the end of World War II and again in the sixties—in fact, the problems that had beset it ever since it had gained its independence in 1827. How to move into a parliamentary democracy and how to translate its nationhood and independence into a stable political regime. The junta had only been an ugly scar. The problems remained the same.


To assess the prospects of democracy in Greece, one must give an overview of the powerful forces that have impeded its growth and also point to some recent developments that may encourage it. Let us begin with the “obstacles.” The first has been the general sense of “dependence” of the Greek governing elites as well as of the public at large on the foreign powers that historically encouraged and nurtured Greek Independence and on those that more recently have come to its aid and protection: England, France, and Russia, and after World War II, the United States. A second but related problem is the separation between the Greek elites and the people at large. A third one, of more recent vintage, lies in the posture of the military and of their role after World War II. Each one of these forces relates to the others and accounts for the complex pattern of attitudes and behavior that defies an easy explanation and makes any effort to gauge the future precarious.

“Dependence” is a term that may be conveniently used to cover the contemporary jargon of “semi-colonialism”, “neo-colonialism”, “penetrated” systems, etc. But it is more accurate for it suggests an element that the other terms obscure: the overt complicity of the elites of the host country with outside intervention and control, if not domination. Ever since Greek independence, this has been precisely the attitude of the Greek elites. They solicited intervention; they relied upon it and gradually they took the “protection” offered for granted. A whole network of attitudes and expectations leading to what amounted to institutional links with foreign powers developed. In the process, the attention of the Greek elite centered increasingly upon their relationship with the “protector.” Through the Palace and more frequently through the embassy or embassies of the foreign powers that dominated the scene, they made their demands known and received guidelines that set the course and the freedom of their action. The major decisions were the result of this interplay between a foreign power and the Greek government—an interplay which ranged, depending on the circumstances, from abject submissiveness and obsequiousness to resentment, defiance and occasional “revolts.”

What is important to recognize is that the real game of politics for the highest stakes was played at this level. Occasional revolts against the dominant power were but the other side of the same coin of dependence. For, gradually, as protection was taken for granted and aid was assumed, any serious difficulty-—domestic or, more often, international —was blamed upon the “protector.” Thus the attitude of France and the indifference of England accounted, it was claimed, for the “catastrophe” of 1922 in Asia Minor and the victory of Turkey. More recently, it was the Kissinger “tilt” towards Turkey that allowed the Turks to invade Cyprus. While there may be elements of truth in both allegations, they do not tell the whole story. The Greeks and their government had their full share of responsibility for both.

The habit of “dependence” linked the Greek ruling groups with foreign powers and focused their attention on their relations with such powers to the detriment of developing solid popular roots and seeking popular support. Indeed, special historical reasons tended to make such a linkage between the Greek people and their leaders more difficult than anywhere else. Modern Greece had been annointed in Elgin’s marbles. The philhellenic movement was based on the “Glory That Was Greece,” in an effort to rediscover it and if possible resurrect it. The ruling groups after the independence of the country found it profitable to satisfy the expectations of the western world. The language was purged to come as close as possible to ancient Greek. Literature and poetry at times reached comic levels of servile imitation of the classics. The church itself—even if unwilling to go to the pagan practices of antiquity—became the staunch defender of a language that could be understood in the hellenistic period. Culturally, linguistically and politically, the line became sharply drawn between the elites and the people. As the character of the ruling groups changed, the difference between “them” and “the people” remained. The children of the wealthy and the educated invariably went abroad— France and Germany, occasionally England, and more recently, the United States. They constituted a self-perpetuating group that drew its inspiration from the West and its support from among the foreign powers. The major institutions through which they expressed themselves were the Palace, the bureaucracy, the universities, the Army, and, depending upon the internal political circumstances, the Parliament.

Since political power came from abroad, the political elites did not attempt to secure it from within. This was the case even when, at the turn of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, the country began to “modernize” with a growing rate of urbanization, a network of communications, a national educational system, economic development, and in general the growth of a middle-class primarily engaged in trade, manufacturing and shipping. But modernization never led to the development of a broad consensus either on political goals or political means.

This became evident with regard to three levels of political life. First the elites split, with some clustering behind the Throne, while others advocated the establishment of genuine representative institutions and social change. The conflict between modernizing elites, pleading for parliamentary institutions, and conservative ones, retrenched behind the Throne, became endemic. Second, even the modernizing elites were divided as to the particular institutionalization of parliamentary government. Few went down the line in pushing for the formation of strong political parties, with mass membership, to act as transmission belts between the people and government and to translate demands into policies and mobilize and integrate the people into the system. Political demands and decisions were joined in terms of patron-client relations rather than rank-and-file or mass and leader relationship. Parties became identified with powerful national leaders, and Constantine Karamanlis and Andreas Papandreou are the living illustrations of personal politics. Generally, they consisted of local leaders who formed loose coalitions and whose influence depended on the specific favors they could provide for their clients. They, in turn, would dispense favors to theirs and so forth. Such a system can, of course, provide for a great degree of stability and even a degree of consensus and effectiveness under certain conditions. But in a modernizing society patron-client relations are highly unstable. They shift constantly and the coalitions formed tend either to fail to respond to new demands or to break up in the face of new demands. The parties therefore do not readily gain legitimacy and cannot provide an institutional apparatus strong enough to channel interests and provide for change. When the charismatic leader at the top falters or disappears, the party breaks up. Such has been and remains the character of Greek political parties.

With the separation between elites and people, with the division of the elite groups, with the growing rate of modernization, and, finally, with the inability of the political parties to form national organizations and provide stable governments, the Throne and the Army were thrust into the forefront of politics. The first sided with the conservative minded elite groups, receiving support from the traditionally backward parts of the country, while the Army, after wavering between royalism and republicanism, became a staunch supporter of the Throne after 1946. There has never been a serious progressive or reformist movement within the Greek military, and after World War II the Army welcomed American intervention in order to combat the Communists. It became intensely conservative precisely at a time when a great many other armies were beginning to search for national, independent and reformist solutions. The Greek Army was ready to step in whenever the representative institutions threatened the status quo. For example, in 1967, the King and his Generals had first planned a coup in order to forestall the forthcoming elections, and they were taken completely by surprise when the Colonels moved first!

This has been the overall picture. There are, however, some encouraging recent signs that relate mostly to the economic modernization of the country. Per capita income has gone up to more than $1,000, at least twice that of Turkey; the tertiary sector has grown thanks to tourism; foreign investment, despite some discriminatory and onerous clauses, has brought a growing industrial component to the economy; the village has lost the significance it once had (about one out of two Greeks now live in large or middle-sized towns); and the Greek workers abroad constitute an appreciable force of semi-skilled, skilled and highly skilled labor as they return, even if it is in small numbers. There are virtually no large landed estates in Greece, so that the landowner is not the political and social force he has been in Italy and Latin America. Finally, despite the presence of some industrial and shipping magnates, the distribution of ownership and control is spread relatively wide—certainly there has been nothing comparable to Portugal’s tight control of the commanding heights of the economy by a few families.

All this accounts for a middle class society that needs to: legitimize its representative institutions, set aside the perennial conflict about the Monarchy, purge the Army of the officers who aspire to an active political role, and accept the logic of basic reforms. These reforms include overhauling the antiquated educational system, providing for social security and health care, supporting small businesses and farmers through an enlightened credit policy, reforming the tax system by closing the many loopholes and instituting a genuine progressive income tax while reducing indirect taxes, bringing under direct state control some major utilities and monopolies, and reforming working conditions in the factory. The younger political leaders who have studied, as in the past, abroad, or, were forced to live abroad for varying lengths of time, have been exposed to such reforms: “participation” of workers in Germany and in France, comprehensive health care systems in England and in Sweden, economic planning in France, social security in the United States, the development of public corporations to direct and manage key economic activities. They have also witnessed the emergence of broad party coalitions in France, the simplification of the party system in Germany, and the strengthening of the executive branch in both, as well as the development of a rationally organized bureaucracy where patron-client relations give place to collective considerations. Many of these younger Greeks are likely to be in positions of power in a decade.

So there is hope for the future. Still, though, the obstacles remain formidable indeed. The system remains perilously poised between the logic of modernization, which calls for the development of political participatory mechanisms in a parliamentary democracy, and the insanity of military intervention to repress it. Between these two powerful forces there may be a third course—revolutionary politics.

Since the end of the 19th century, there has been a constant and unresolved conflict between the traditional forces in Greece behind the King and the modernizing elites favoring a parliamentary democracy. In the past 50 years the intensity of the conflict has sharpened and with it revolutionary politics has become a possibility. With each clash, the aspirations of the Left have attracted a sizeable part of the middle classes and intellectuals. At the same time, the resistance of the traditional forces has stiffened and has assumed the mantle of authoritarianism, attracting the greatest part of the upper bourgeoisie and an appreciable segment of the middle classes. The reforms accomplished at the beginning of the 20th century and again in the 30’s frightened the ruling groups. The King was brought back and an authoritarian system followed in 1936 under Metaxas. In World War II the left-wing forces under the Communists and the progressive liberals made their bid for power. It was followed by British intervention and the return once more of the King. The civil war that lasted until 1949 was the bitterest confrontation between Left and Right, and it was only massive American help that tipped the scales in favor of the Monarchy, the military, the traditional forces, and a large part of the middle classes that had sided with them. The backlash accounted for a long period of repression during which the restoration of the traditional forces behind the Monarchy seemed secure. But again in the 1960’s the stirrings for parliamentary democracy and with it an opening to the left brought back the military with continuing American support, resulting in one of the most repressive and primitive dictatorships Greece had known.

Thus it would seem that the moment the pendulum begins to move to the center and the left it becomes transformed into a sword that swings to the right. Will it ever remain poised in the Center? Will the middle classes accept and support fully the logic of parliamentary democracy by eliminating to their right the privileged position of the Monarch and the Army and by allowing to their left through national parties and reformist policies for a feeling of participation and a modicum of satisfaction and security? With Karamanlis the pendulum seems to have been miraculously arrested in the center—but for how long?


The very recent developments—notably the election of Nov. 17, 1974 and the referendum on the King’s return on December 9 of the same year, and, finally, the municipal elections of March 1975—do not provide any clear indication as yet of the direction toward which Greece is going. To begin with, the election was a personal affair in which Karamanlis, very much like de Gaulle, asked for solid majorities to face the national danger that came from Turkey and the lack of American “protection,” to revise the constitution in order to strengthen the executive branch, and to purge the Army and put it under civil direction. The Gaullist experience, with which he was familiar, was very much on his mind. His party—the New Democracy—was the counterpart of the Gaullist Union for the New Republic of 1958. It was also similar in composition and organization, consisting of his previous followers, old conservative political leaders and a sprinkling of politicians who had opposed the junta and had suffered in its hands. Primary emphasis was put upon the leader himself. The party spread like an umbrella to cover local provincial bosses and to attract many from the centrist groups. In fact, an effort was made at the beginning to include also the Center Party in a broad national coalition. With an eye to the hard core of the pro-royalists— who under normal conditions amount to as much as 30—35 per cent of the voters—Karamanlis refused, in contrast to all the other political parties, to take a stand against the King. Rather he promised a popular consultation right after the election. Thus he did not alienate a single royalist voter! With remarkable understanding of the prevailing mood of the public, he joined all other political leaders in proposing Greece’s withdrawal from NATO and the renegotiation of the status of all American bases. There was little else he could do, and in doing what he did he remained the most pro-American statesman. All others had urged immediate withdrawal of the American forces and separation from NATO and some even from the Alliance. Having satisfied the pro-royalists and having paid tribute to the intense anti-American feeling that followed the Cyprus events, he calmly promised national independence, national dignity and national strength to face the Turkish peril.

Remarkably, the “New Democracy,” founded in September 1974, managed to develop contacts rapidly throughout the country and was ready for the election within less than ten weeks. But the other parties managed the same feat. This was another indication of the failure of the junta to seriously affect the existing political class. The Center Union, the newly-founded PASOK by Andreas Papandreou and even the factions of the old Communist Party sprang into life and blossomed. There were few “independents” and extremists from the Left or the Right, and they received less than 3 per cent of the vote. The party system seemed to respond to the needs of national identity and coherence with only four parties running throughout the nation. The traditional fragmentation, provincialism and even localism of the party system seemed to give way to broader national options presented by national, even hastily organized, parties.

Without a powerful personality to replace its former leader, George Papandreou, the Center, which had won a majority in 1964, was a ghost of its former self. It relied upon its traditional local and provincial leaders, but in the seven years of the junta many had abandoned their political strongholds or had failed to visit their constituencies. With Andreas Papandreou—the obvious heir to his father’s position—the Center might have regained its vitality and appeal. But without him it stagnated. Besides little that was substantive separated it from Karamanlis except its anti-royalist profession of faith and its somewhat virulent anti-NATO stand. Even its strong pro-European stance, favoring entry in the Common Market and close relations with France, could not separate it from Karamanlis. The Left was represented by the Communists, who expected, if united, to receive the support of the faithful—as much as 10 per cent—and a brand new Party, the PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) founded by Andreas Papandreou in the first week of September. It was the latter that attracted popular attention if not, as ultimately proved to be the case, support.

Andreas Papandreou returned after seven years with personal aspirations which appeared to exceed his political grasp. He undoubtedly felt that the reaction against the junta would take a strong leftist and anti-American stance and expected to capitalize on this. In Portugal the pendulum had swung widely to the left, in Italy a leftist convulsion was averted only thanks to the efforts of a vigilant Communist Party and in Spain the rumblings of an opening to the left could be heard. He opted for a new party, he chose to appear as a new man and he promised socialism overnight. He picked his targets carefully—NATO, Kissinger, the Greek military, the multinationals, the American military presence in Greece, and, occasionally, Israel. He promised to secure for the first time the independence of Greece by cutting off all ties from the “protector”—the USA—and also by eschewing any integrative ties with Western Europe and the Common Market. He watched vigilantly over the security and the integrity of Cyprus as a member of the United Nations, hoping to keep the island out of any NATO entanglements and control. He urged the drastic purging of the Greek army and the setting aside of all legislation passed by the junta. But he went way beyond and way out to the left by advocating broad socialization measures of industry, health, education, and even trade. He suggested regionalization and municipalization to give initiative and freedom of action to local units; equality of sexes; the right to work; and, of course, he insisted on the qualitative improvement of life. His platform combined parts of the French “Common Program” elaborated by the Communists and Socialists, invocations of the programs of left-wing extremists in Western Europe and some of the realities of Swedish welfare legislation. It was much more to the Left of what the Communists proposed, and the latter quickly accused Papandreou of “adventurism” and irresponsibility. The country, they claimed, was not ready for socialism. Not even the preconditions for socialism had been established, they contended.

With remarkable vigor, though he claimed to lack the financial means, Papandreou set out to organize his new party. Yet it was only in part new. Often he had to appeal to old time centrists and to many local bosses who had worked with his father. He managed to set up local and provincial committees throughout the country and was able to stump the countryside, gathering large crowds in all his meetings. Students, intellectuals and in general younger people flocked to his gatherings and some into his party, but the workers remained cool. The man in the street was puzzled. Papandreou had spent most of his adult life abroad, mostly in the United States. Was not his wife American? Had he not returned, after he was allowed to leave Greece by the junta, to the United States on speaking tours or in universities even if he had made his home in Toronto? Were not some of his children studying in American colleges? The average Greek I talked with seemed restive with “Andreas” and much more at home with the memory of his father—”the old one.”

For a country that had just emerged from a military dictatorship, the election campaign was a model of self-restraint and dignity. No one was killed, wounded or even arrested. There was not a single instance of serious violence. The Greeks in a remarkable fit of self-composure decided to proclaim their pride in their newly-founded freedom and to show the world. It was perhaps the only genuinely free election the country has held since World War II. The results were also an expression of moderation, perhaps of conservatism. Greece simply failed to follow the example of Italy or Portugal or even France. Karamanlis and his Party swept the country with almost 55 per cent of the vote, gaining 220 seats in the 300-member Legislative Assembly. He carried every single electoral district except for Crete, the provincial bastion of the centrist party. Moreover, except for Crete, it was a nationwide vote fairly evenly distributed—higher in the villages (about 58 per cent), lower in the small and middle-size towns (about 53—54 per cent), and somewhat weaker in the large urban centers of Athens, Piraeus and Salonica (where he scored about 49 per cent).

The Center party with about 20 per cent of the vote came second, but a very poor second at that, especially if we recall that some ten years before it had won an absolute majority of about 52 per cent. It continued to rely on important local political magnates, but the leadership was gone and so was the appeal. There is no doubt that more than half of the Centrist voters of 1964 and an appreciable part of the new voters went to the Karamanlis side.

The great unknown was PASOK. It came out a poor third with only 13.6 per cent of the vote, gaining only 12 seats in the legislative assembly as compared to 60 for the Centrists. This electoral defeat, however, tells only part of the story. Papandreou failed to get adequate support in the urban centers and among the workers. He dropped below the national average in large and middle-sized towns and scored above his national average in the villages and the countryside. In Athens and Salonica, for instance, he scored only 12.6 per cent. There were some other disturbing signs in the PASOK vote. It was highly uneven with wild ups and downs from one district to another, ranging from as high as 20—28 per cent in some while dropping down to 6—9 per cent in others. The inference is inescapable: favorable party swings were often attributable to individual local candidates. Thus the party seemed to attract a higher per cent of villagers than city dweller, a greater percentage of voters from backward areas rather than from developed ones and to owe its strength in specific areas to local candidates rather than to its program or leader. PASOK apparently benefited from the stagnation of the Centrists rather than from the new policical forces and the workers to which their leader appealed.

This conclusion is borne out by the vote for the Communists. They held on to almost 10 per cent of the vote, and their vote was distinctly urban. The Communists came out ahead of PASOK in Salonica, Athens, Piraeus, and other urban centers. Conversely, they simply wilted in the villages and the more backward areas of the country. They won only eight seats in the legislative assembly. But after 35 years of repression and persecution (eased off only in the early 60’s and then resumed with unmitigated vigor under the junta), the party—internally divided and without leadership—regained its strength. They lost little to Papandreou. Ten per cent may well be the optimum vote for Communism in Greece in an election held under normal conditions. If one were to add at least 10 per cent of the Papandreou vote, then the combined leftist vote doesn’t amount to more than 20 per cent.

The election had, therefore, produced a solid parliamentary and popular majority and Karamanlis’s Gaullist appeal had been vindicated. It had also simplified the party configuration by narrowing competition to four major parties. On the other hand, it did not provide a basis for the development of strong centralized national parties. The New Democracy and PASOK are personal parties whose internal cohesiveness and organization are open to question. As for the Center, it remains a loose alliance of local and provincial leaders. The Communists are down to their core-strength, but they are also divided into factions, with some faithful to the party’s traditional subservience to Moscow and others ready to strike out on an independent course, like the Italian or Spanish Communists. Nonetheless, the country could count at long last on a majority to undertake, even if with the utmost caution, the tasks ahead: a new constitution, the gradual purging of the army, civilian control of the military forces, the purge of the civil service, negotiations with the United States regarding the American bases, the extrication of Greece from NATO control, the settlement of the Greek-Turkish conflicts, and on the domestic side the realization of long overdue reforms in credit policy, taxation, education, labor legislation, and investments. What is more, after the election and despite anti-American sentiment, Greece remained solidly in the “western camp.” There was room for hope.

The first dark cloud on the seemingly promising political horizon appeared within weeks after the election. It was the referendum—held, as promised, on Dec. 9, 1974—on the King’s return. That it was only a cloud and not a storm was again a good omen. Yet it raised fundamental questions about the stability of Karamanlis’ majority party. The result was conclusive or rather it would be considered conclusive anywhere but in Greece. Seven out of every ten Greeks opted for a Republic; only three out of every ten clung to the Monarchy. Only in two departments of Greece did the King receive a majority. Everywhere else he was rejected. It was a nationwide vote, and despite certain variations, uniformly and overwhelmingly against the King.

Where was the cloud then? Simply in the fact that, no matter how we analyze the results of the referendum, we cannot escape the conclusion that as many as five out of every ten voters who voted for Karamanlis and his party in the towns and perhaps as many as six out of every ten in the villages and the countryside voted also for the King. Karamanlis was barely able to impose a neutral stance upon the elected representatives of the New Democracy; he could not do the same for the voters who had elected them. His party, therefore, carries within it the seeds of discord, if not as yet of outright division. For the many thwarted royalists in its ranks and councils, the slightest political disturbance will be an incentive to appeal to the King. Even more, as the Karamanlis government moves in the direction of enlightened reforms, the traditional forces are likely to move in the opposite direction and seek again to safeguard their positions through the military and the King. And, finally, as the Greek-Turkish dispute continues to remain unresolved, there will be powerful outside forces—mostly, I fear, from the United States—to subordinate Greece to the demands of Turkey, the most powerful, at least seemingly, of the two allies, in the name of NATO unity and defense. The best way to accomplish this is to engineer the return of the King—with the help and complicity of the domestic forces, including the Army—and to hold him as hostage in exchange for NATO and the settlement of the Greek-Turkish dispute. The Turks then might even make some concessions in Cyprus to appease the Greek public.

If the above hypothesis appears—and perhaps it is—extreme, then a modified version is more likely. Karamanlis pinned in the center right and beholden to his royalist voters may himself give in; or, may be forced to slow down basic reforms, especially the purge of the Army, the Police, the Gendarmerie, and the Civil Service. If so, the center-left groups will become even more militant and, by uniting their forces against Karamanlis, may force him in turn to rely more and more upon his conservative supporters. This, for instance, appears to have been the case in the recently held municipal elections, where all “opposition” forces united successfully behind a single candidate against Karamanlis and his candidates. It is true that such a unity may be short-lived, but it may prove to be sufficient to alarm the rightwingers and to reduce the options before Karamanlis. Elected as the embodiment and the affirmation of national unity, he may, when it begins to splinter, withdraw once more from politics. Without him, the New Democracy cannot survive. So that at a time when the election results presaged an evolution toward parliamentary democracy, the two century-old demons of Greek politics are again raising their heads—the King and the foreign “protector,” now the United States. It is once more the King and the military establishment (which faces purging and has already tried to unseat Karamanlis) who may provide an appropriate instrument for the “protection” of immediate U. S. strategic interest in the area.


This is the immediate danger that faces Greece today, and this is also the danger that faces an American foreign policy committed to short-term strategic goals. For it may encourage the third possible course that Greek politics may take— revolutionary politics. Unable to use parliamentary politics so as to neutralize the traditional forces that have operated behind the King or the military or both, unwilling to return to semi-authoritarian or authoritarian solutions under the Monarchy and its supporters, the Greek people may take a sharp turn to the left. What form such a turn will take is uncertain. But as long as the Greek-Turkish conflict continues, it will have to ‘be strongly nationalistic. Both Papandreou and the Communists as well as many Centrists have taken such a nationalist line up to now. This inevitably means that a leftist militaristic movement will have to seek from among the young officers precisely those who, disenchanted with the role the United States has played, will opt for truly national and independent solutions very similar to those advocated by Papandreou. While there is no Nasserist ideology as yet in the Greek Army, Nasserism is a distinct possibility. Nor is there any reason why a Greek Nasser would have to come from among the officers. He may be a political leader to whom the whole left as well as many Centrists could give their support in order to fight the common enemy from the Right and from across the Atlantic. He could be expected to challenge the dominant position of the American forces and to assert Greek interests in the Aegean and in Cyprus in such a manner that any response from Turkey would have to become a matter of grave concern for the Soviet Union. He might further take a strong anti-Israel position in line with the trading and economic interests of Greece and of Greeks throughout the Arab world. Such a situation could confront the United States with no choice other than total retreat or total involvement.

A second form of revolutionary politics is a modified version of the Portuguese model. It lies in the creation of a “united front” or even a “national front” in which Centrists and many of the anti-royalist followers of Karamanlis may join forces with the left. The municipal elections provided for the first such combined effort. Faced with the erosion of Karamanlis’ strength and the efforts of the military to maintain their position and the support of the United States to them, such a front may assume nationwide proportions in the foreseeable future. It would differ from the Nasserist model in several respects. It would be much more inward-looking, focusing its immediate attention on domestic economic and social reforms, including the drastic purging of the administration and the military. It would avoid any direct confrontation with Turkey but in the name of independence will extricate itself fully from all NATO entanglements and will abandon the present commitment to the Common Market. It would undoubtedly seek good relations with all neighbors and former allies, including the Soviet Union and more particularly the Arab world. It may even reach tentative agreements with Turkey that safeguard Greece’s vital interests and bide its time.

Either the “Nasserist” model or the modified version of the Portuguese model carry the same implications for the future as the return of the King and of an authoritarian government supported by the military. The present parliamentary phase will come to an end. It will be remembered as the only period of genuine freedom the Greeks have experienced ever since they defended their country against the Nazis.


A precarious web of actions and counteractions will determine the future course of Greek politics. They have a dynamic quality and a special chemistry that give to each of them and each one of the actors a weight that can be assessed only if we keep the web in mind. None of them can dominate and control events. Neither the United States, nor the King, nor the military, nor Karamanlis, nor Papandreou —to mention some of the most important ones—can impose a solution or even affect it decisively. But a combination of them can. The military and the royalists are in danger; the king is in exile. The United States needs a docile government to keep its position in the area and appease Turkey. This combination spells one and only one thing: a return of an authoritarian government with the King back. This is what Papandreou has been predicting and he has nothing to lose in so doing. If it were to happen—and I agree with him that it might happen under certain conditions—he would become a “prophet.” If it does not happen, he can always allege other factors, including his own efforts to avert it. But there is another combination of forces that may well safeguard the present regime and with it keep the prospects of constitutional democracy alive. The left-wing forces, including Papandreou himself, may throw their support behind Karamanlis against the King and the military and against any collusion between them and the United States in order to protect the present democratic regime and allow it to proceed with the gradual purging of the Army and the administration, negotiations with Turkey, extrication from NATO, and gradual social reforms. This will provide a powerful front of domestic forces against which the combined efforts of the King, the military and the United States may well prove to be impotent.

There is yet a third, and even more optimistic, possibility. The United States, in the process of reassessing its foreign policy may well conclude, as the Secretary of State has hinted recently, that short-term strategic considerations must give place to long-range ones in which democratic governments— as the one in Greece—may in the last analysis prove to be more hospitable to American interests and even to our fleet than short-lived dictatorships and military adventures. If so, then the combination of the United States and Karamanlis together with the expressed desire of the Greeks, as indicated by the election and the referendum, may prove to be the only unbeatable one. Such a combination would enable the present regime to survive and allow the time needed for a new leadership to sustain, structure and consolidate democratic government.


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