What can “Centre-left faction” mean in today’s Greece?


The first political steps

The political conditions in our country have a centuries-long historical path of two hundred and so years, having as their starting point, the first years of liberation. Unfortunately, however, since then the European great powers that defended the destinies of the peoples of the entire world with the colonial or guardianship tactics, they had the first say in the formation of the first Greek state. Already since then, their first move was to choose him as their ruler for Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias, who arrived in Nafplio in January 1828. Before four years had passed since his arrival, Kapodistrias was murdered in September 1831, perhaps by the cooperation of the foreign “guardians” themselves as moral authors, with local political and military factors.

The aforementioned European centers after the death of Kapodistrias, in 1832, they installed Othon, a prince of Bavarian origin, in the position of supreme ruler, as king. Since then, however, the then so-called great powers, which were England, France, and Russia, fought among themselves as to who would get the most benefits from the management of the unfortunate Greek people. That was their real involvement in the governance of our country, since the three political parties that had been formed had a direct reference to them. It was the English party, the French party, and the Russian party.

From the Bavarian king to the Danish king!

Othon, the first king of modern Greece.

These parties had almost exclusively the representation of the will of the then independent Greek area that reached as far as Thessaly. This lasted at least thirty years, until the dethronement of Otto, in October 1862.

The subsequent elections of 1865, were the first to take place in a relatively mild political climate without incidents and conflicts. It was the period when the English and French parties suspended their operations to be followed by the Russian ten years later in 1875.

King George I of the Greeks

Without delay, in March 1863 the Danish prince, George I, was enthroned as the new king of Greece, who would reign for a full 50 years until March 1913 when he was assassinated in Thessaloniki.

Since the elections of 1865 and until the elections of August 1910, for a whole 45 years, the elections were led by parties whose ideologies were mainly conservative and their common feature was their personal representation. These parties were in fact completely personal and referred only to their leader.

Illustration of the Hellenic Parliament in the 1880s, with Charilaos Trikoupis in the dais
Illustration of the Hellenic Parliament in the 1880s, with Charilaos Trikoupis in the dais

Commons wikimedia george e. coronaios

They were the parties of D. Voulgaris, Thras. Zaimis, of Epam. Deliiorgis, by Alex. Koumoundourou, by X. Trikoupis, by Theod. Diligiannis, but also of I. Theotokos. All the above politicians for these 45 years, alternated as prime ministers in the governments that resulted from the 20 electoral contests that were held in this time period.

August 15, 1909, as the day that changed Greece

Popular lithograph by S. Christidis about the success of the Movement

Popular lithograph by S. Christidis about the success of the Movement

August 1909 was one of the most significant periods both for Greek political governance and for the future of modern Hellenism. It was then that the military movement in Goudiwhere a group of senior and junior officers, decided to get involved in the political events, and to invite the leader of the progressive party of Crete, Eleftherios Venizelos, to take over as Prime Minister of Greece. His decisions “Military League” as the movement had been named, the labor unions of the capital also fervently supported their support and demonstrated it with the grand rally in Athens on September 14, 1909.

The “Liberals” of Venizelos as the mentors of the Democratic faction

Venizelos, early 20th century

Venizelos, early 20th century

E. Venizelos actually accepted the proposal, but on the condition that he would only take over as prime minister if the people chose him after the elections. So Venizelos in August 1910 founded the “Liberal Party” which he leads, and in the next elections in November, he secures a very large majority. It was the first time that a progressive party was established in the country, which managed to establish itself in the people’s consciousness as a faction that wants to represent the people’s interests. The “Liberal” party, for its political struggles and action, called itself the Democratic faction.

The Democratic faction, as the nursery of the Greek Center-Left

Since its founding in 1910, the “Liberal” faction, either under the name “Party of the Liberals”, either as the EPEK of N. Plastiras, or as the “Agrarian Progressive Party” of A. Baltatzis, or as the “Union of the Center” of George Papandreou, it reached the significant period of the overthrow of the Republic in April 1967.

The return of the Republic in July 1974, finds the Greek people more mature politically, and determined now, for a new beginning in their political choices. It has matured and become Pallaic, the demand for a constructive democratic governance.

ullstein bild Dtl. via Getty Images

This climate for political renewal and the wind that was blowing for deeper social changes, urged Andreas Papandreou to proceed with the restructuring of the progressive space and establish a genuine popular movement, PASOK. In less than 7 years, PASOK managed to rally the majority of the progressive and creative political forces of the Greek people, and take over political governance. Soon enough it was de facto recognized as the Center-Left faction with a wide acceptance. The faction managed to politically and socially express Greek citizens who came from the area of ​​the traditional left as well as the progressive center.

The “temporary” loss of public confidence in the Center-Left faction

This trust of the popular strata in the faction lasted until the 2000s. Since then, the inherent inability to modernize the faction’s policies and methodology of operation and action, in combination with the major political and social changes that were taking place in the European area, the led to political withering. This resulted in the Greek people turning their backs on the political body that for at least three decades expressed it in a fairly large percentage.

However, the political ideology of the progressive space of the Greek people neither dissipated nor mutated. Another political body, O SYRIZAwhich until the beginning of the 2010s was on the political fringe gathering the trust of only 5% of the Greek people, took advantage of this loss of trust, and managed to gather even in the short term the preference of the Center-Left space.

The impossibility of vesting in the progressive space

However, this political entity failed to rally the progressive forces of the center-left space, which would have ensured it a more permanent and secure position in the preferences of the Greek people. This had the effect of losing his initial electoral preference, and finding himself after four years in the role of the opposition. In our opinion it should show “greater political respect” in the political space that we contributed to his success.

The unfair behavior of SYRIZA towards the Center-Left

But the strategic choice of the SYRIZA leadership in the face of the potential unification of the progressive space, certainly imposes heavy responsibilities on her. In fact, her choice deprives the majority of the Greek people of the opportunity to be governed by a progressive political force that exists in its ranks anyway, but unfortunately cannot find a way to express itself unitedly.

The parallel with the period of 1961 when the progressive parties were united in the Center Union

Historically, we can learn from the situation that existed in the political space of the Democratic faction in the early 1960s, where in the political spectrum of the faction there were at least 7 commas. Both the difficult political conditions that existed and the necessity for the government of the Greek people by a government that really serves his interests, led the political leaders to establish the Center Union. THE Center Union, whose establishment was announced on September 19, 1961, was formed by the following parties:

The Center Union was managed by an eight-member committee whose president was Mr George Papandreou.

The brave and patriotic decision of the then political leaders

Certainly then as well as today, the decision of the political leaders of these progressive parties is judged as a deeply patriotic act. It really deserved a big thumbs up to those politicians who, with excessive political maturity but also a deep patriotic feeling for the benefit of their country, set aside their personal ambitions and they agreed in the creation of the great progressive faction. The impressive benefits of their movement were soon seen, when the Center Union secured a majority in the 1963 elections, and in the next elections of 1964 it managed an impressive percentage of 53%!

Today’s necessity

So we wonder if the reasons that existed in 1961 and which pushed the political leaders of the progressive parties of the fragmented progressive faction to their historic decision, still exist today. Certainly we can enumerate strong arguments that dictate the necessity of such a thing brave and deeply patriotic approach:

  • As first reason we can cite the deep conviction of the progressive space that only with a progressive center-left government will the interests of the popular strata be served.
  • As second reason we refer to the closely neighboring and related political space of potentially interested parties. And as mentioned parties, we consider SYRIZA, PASOK-KINEMA ALLAGIS, and MERA-25, at least.
  • As third reason we consider that this obvious kinship is familiar to the world of these parties, since they are connected by a multitude of social, trade union and other struggles for the consolidation of Democracy in our country.
  • As fourth reason we consider the legal necessity for a unified expression of these parties in the European political space of the European Socialists and Democrats where the political leaders are jointly invited. In other words, the Europeans consider us similar or closely related political spaces, while we deny it! Is this a “peculiar political ostrich-camelism”!
  • As fifth and we consider a stronger reason to be the need for united political and social forces, which will create a strong creative dynamic for the functioning of the institutions. We estimate that in recent years this has weakened a lot or disappeared completely, due to a lack of inspiration and personal interests. It is known to all of us, and we have seen it in the past, that institutions work and perform when there is participation, interest and above all the will to volunteer!

The challenge

So will the current political climate cause the big challenge? In other words, will it be possible to unify the progressive and Center-Left space not only as a necessary democratic counterweight in the form of the opposition but also with the future perspective of the country’s governance?

The article is in Greek

Tags: Centreleft faction todays Greece


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