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Greece, 1981-89
The Populist Decade

Edited by

Richard Clogg
Professor of Modern Balkan History
University of London
and Associate Fellow
St Antony's College, Oxford

150th YEAR

St. Martin's Press
Selection, editorial matter and Introduction © Richard Clogg 1993
Chapters 1-11 © The Macmillan Press Ltd 1993
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Greece, 1981-1989: the populist decade / edited by Richard Clogg.
p. cm.
Includes index.
ISBN 978-0-312-10176-3
1. Greece-Politics and govemment-1974- 2. Panellēnio
Sosialistiko Kinēma (Greece) I. Clogg, Richard, 1939- .
DF854.G72 1993
949.507©6-dc20 93-11029
Notes on the Contributors vi
Introduction: The PASOK Phenomenon viii
Richard Clagg
1 Politics and Culture in Greece, 1974-91: 1
An Interpretation
P. Nikiforos Diamandouros
2 PASOK in Power: From 'Change' to Disenchantment 26
Christos Lyrintzis
3 Civil Society under Populism 47
George Th. Mavrogortkztos
4 The Presidency, Parliament and the Courts in the 1980s 65
Nicos C. Alivizatos
5 The Left in the 1980s: Too Little, Too Late 78
Vasilis Kapetanyannis
6 The 1980s in the Looking-Glass: PASOK 94
and the Media
Stephanos Pesmazoglou
7 PASOK's Foreign Policies, 1981-89: 113
Continuity or Change?
Theodore A. Couloumbis
8 From the 'Special Relationship' to Europeanism: 131
PASOK and the European Community, 1981-89
Susannah Verney
9 Beneath the Sound and the Fury: US Relations with 154
the PASOK Government
John 0. latrides
10 PASOK and Greek-Turkish Relations 167
Van Coufoutkzkis
11 Defence and Security Policies under PASOK 181
Thanos Veremis
Index 190
Notes on the Contributors
Nicos C. Alivizatos is Professor of Constitutional Law in the University
of Athens, where he also teaches constitutional history. His books include
Les institutions politiques de Ia Grece a travers les crises 1922-1974
(1979) and (in Greek) The Constitutional Status of the Armed Forces, 2
vols (1987, 1992).

Richard Clogg is Associate Fellow, St Antony's College, Oxford and

Professor of Modem Balkan History in the University of London. His
most recent book is A Concise History of Greece (1992).

Van Coufoudakis is Associate Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs and

is Professor of Political Science at Indiana University - Purdue University
Fort Wayne. His research and writing focuses on the politics, foreign and
security policies of Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.

Theodore A. Couloumbis is Professor of International Relations,

University of Athens and General Secretary of the Hellenic Foundation for
Defence and Foreign Policy. His most recent book, co-authored with James
H. Wolfe, is International Relations: Power and Justice, 5th edition, 1993.

P. Nikiforos Diamandouros is Associate Professor of Comparative

Politics, University of Athens and Co-Chair of the Subcommittee on the
Nature and Consequences of Democratic Consolidation in Southern
Europe of the Social Science Research Council (New York). He is co-
editor (with Richard Gunther and Hans-Jiirgen Puhle) of The Politics of
Democratic Consolidation: Southern Europe in comparative perspective

John 0. Iatrides is Professor of International Politics at Southern

Connecticut State University and has taught courses on modem Greek
politics at Harvard, Princeton and Yale universities. In the 1950s he served
with the Greek National Defence General Staff and with the press office of
the prime minister of Greece. His books include Balkan Triangle (1968},
Revolt in Athens (1972), and Ambassador Macveagh Reports (1980).

Vasitis Kapetanyannis writes on Greek politics and international affairs.

He holds a PhD in politics from Birkbeck College (University of London)
Notes on the Contributors vii
and has worked for the BBC and as press attacM in the Greek Embassy in

Christos Lyrintzis is Associate Professor, Department of Political

Science and Public Administration, University of Athens. His most recent
book is Notables in Nineteenth-Century Achaia (1992) (in Greek).

George Th. Mavrogordatos is Associate Professor of Political Science in

the University of Athens. His books include Stillborn Republic (1983), for
which he received the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award of the
American Political Science Association.

Stephanos Pesmazoglou is Assistant Professor, Panteios University. His

teaching and research have focused on educational, political and
ideological aspects of postwar Greek society within a South-European
comparative perspective.

Thanos Veremis is a Professor in the Department of Political Science and

Public Administration, University of Athens and Director of the Hellenic
Foundation for Defence and Foreign Policy. His books include Military
Intervention in Greek Politics 1916-1936 (1977) (in Greek).

Susannah Verney is Visiting Research Fellow (Unit on South East

Europe) in the University of Bradford, and teaches Greek politics in
Athens. She has published a number of articles on Greek-EC relations and
other aspects of Greek politics.
Introduction: The PASOK
The military dictatorship that spectacularly misruled Greece between 1967
and 1974 had one uncovenanted benefit. The need to explain the ease with
which democratic institutions had been subverted in 1967 by a small
clique of military adventurers and, indeed, the rapidity with which the
junta disappeared from the scene in 1974 prompted a quantum leap in the
study of contemporary history and politics in, and outside, Greece. 1 The
nearly simultaneous collapse of authoritarian regimes of much longer
duration in Portugal (the Salazar dictatorship had in fact had a quantifiable
influence on the prewar Metaxas dictatorship in Greece) 2 and Spain
likewise served to focus attention on problems of authoritarianism and the
transition to democratic rule in southern Europe.3
Similarly, the astonishing 'short march' to power, to use the telling
phrase of Mihalis Spourdalakis,4 of Andreas Papandreou and his Panellinio
Sosialistiko Kinema (PASOK), or Panhellenic Socialist Movement,
between 1974 and its accession to power in 1981 has also served to focus
attention on the Greek political system. How was it that a party, or
Movement (Kinima) as it has always insisted that it is, founded as recently
as 1974 in the confused aftermath of the collapse of the Colonels' regime,
was able virtually to double its share of the popular vote in successive
elections between 1974 and 1981 (14 per cent in 1974; 25 per cent in 1977
and 48 per cent in 1981; the last result one of the largest pluralities in the
country's postwar electoral history)? Greece's acquisition of its first-ever
'socialist' (more accurately populist) government in October 1981
followed by only a few months her accession to the European Community
as its tenth member, another milestone in Greece's recent history which
served to focus attention on a country which, it soon emerged, was
essentially terra incognita in Brussels and the rest of the Community.
Greece was the first country to have entered the Community with a
political culture that has been profoundly influenced by centuries of
Ottoman rule and the first in which the prevailing religion is Orthodoxy.
Greece is the only Community country with such a double heritage and is
likely to remain so for some time to come. Four centuries and more of
Ottoman hegemony served to insulate the Greek lands from great historical
movements such as the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Counter-
Reformation, the seventeenth-century Scientific Revolution, the Enlighten-
Introduction ix
ment, the French and the Industrial revolutions that have had such a
profound effect on the historical evolution of Western Europe, whether in
the predominantly Protestant north or in the Catholic south. Orthodoxy,
with its anti-Western traditions dating from the Great Schism of 1054 and
understandable resentment at the way in which Catholic Christendom had
tried to make acceptance of papal supremacy the price of military aid
against the Ottoman Turks, has likewise contributed to the cutting-off of
Greece from the mainstream of European developments.
There was little awareness in the other member states of the European
Community of the manner in which a differing historical and religious
inheritance had helped shape Greece's political culture. Likewise there
was little understanding of the nature of PASOK and of the difficulties,
idiosyncrasies and downright contradictions inherent in introducing
PASOK's 'third road to socialism' by democratic means in a society
where as few as 40 per cent of the workforce are wage- or salary-earners
and in which as much as 40 per cent of all economic activity takes place in
the 'black' economy. This 'third road to socialism' would, according to its
advocates, somehow forge a new path between social democracy on the
West European pattern which Papandreou dismissed as essentially
capitalism with a human face, and the totalitarian bankruptcy of 'existing
socialism' as manifested in the countries of the Eastern bloc.
In particular, Greece's new-found partners in the EC had little inkling of
the depth of the resentment felt by many Greeks, a resentment on which
Papandreou was able to capitalise brilliantly, at what is perceived as the
way in which Greece has, over the century-and-a-half since gaining her
independence in the 1830s, been forced into a subordinate, dependent and
often humiliating position vis-a-vis the Great Powers. In particular, they
failed to take account of the bitterness felt towards Greece's partners in
NATO, and especially towards the United States. This derived from the
West's inertia in the face of the first military dictatorship (1967-74) to be
established in non-communist Europe during the postwar period; its
failure to respond adequately to the crisis occasioned by the Turkish
invasion of Cyprus in 1974, which had precipitated the downfall of the
military regime in Athens but had nonetheless left approaching 40 per cent
of the land-area of Cyprus under Turkish occupation; and its failure to
support Greece over the whole range of bilateral disputes with its eastern
neighbour which collectively constituted the 'Aegean dispute' .5
It was precisely this sense of betrayal and disillusionment that
Papandreou was able to harness with his call for a 'nationally proud', non-
subservient foreign policy. Hence Greece's EC partners were unprepared
for Greece's assumption of the role of 'awkward squad' within the
X Introduction
community. This manifested itself in many forms: most surprisingly,
perhaps, in Papandreou's refusal to join in the general chorus of criticism
when General Wojciech Jaruzelski thwarted the Solidarity movement in
Poland by imposing martial law in 1981. When Papandreou criticised
Solidarity for failing to work 'within the framework of historical
possibilities' and when he appeared to take at face-value Jaruzelski's
promises to enhance the role of parliament, he began to sound uncannily
like apologists for the Papadopoulos dictatorship in their naive willingness
to accept the sincerity of its promises to engineer an eventual return to
democracy. Papandreou's benign attitude to military dictatorship in
Poland was all the odder in the light of his bitter criticisms of what he saw
as a US-inspired dictatorship in Greece and of his own centre/periphery
perspectives. For the first-ever military coup in a communist-ruled country
could, in the light of such an analysis, be seen as the mirror-image of the
imposition of the junta in Greece, the first such coup in postwar non-
communist Europe. A more consistent application of such an analysis
would have held that the metropolitan centre in both major politico-
military blocs could be seen as having intervened at a time when bloc
cohesion appeared to be under threat from dissident forces within each
Other instances of Greece's falling-out with its EC and NATO partners
embraced opposition to the stationing of cruise and Pershing missiles in
Europe; refusal to join in the chorus of disapproval following the Soviet
shooting-down of the Korean Airlines jumbo-jet in 1983; the boycotting of
NATO exercises in the light of Turkish objections to the militarisation of
the island ofLimnos; and Papandreou's categorisation of the Soviet Union
as a non-imperialist power in contrast with the United States which he
described as the 'metropolis' of imperialism.
This very public dissent from the policies of its European and American
partners prompted much, frequently abusive, criticism of the Greek prime
minister, repeating a pattern of outspoken criticism of Papandreou,
particularly in US administration circles, that dated back to his entry on
the Greek political scene in the mid-1960s, following more than two
decades spent as an academic economist in the United States. No reader of
the accounts by Andreas Papandreou and by his then wife Margaret
(Democracy at Gunpoint: The Greek Front (1971) and Nightmare in
Athens (1970) respectively) of their experiences in the turbulent years
preceding the 1967 coup could be unaware of the depths of their sense of
betrayal by US policymakers. This was often reflected in intemperate
criticisms of US policy which, in tum, reinforced the abusive attacks on
the Papandreous.
Introduction xi
What Papandreou' s critics in the US and elsewhere seldom grasped was
the extent to which the views that he expressed enshrined the attitudes of
many of his fellow countrymen. His flamboyant anti-American, anti-EC,
anti-NATO, anti-imperialist rhetoric struck a deep chord with many
Greeks, while offending others in equal measure. In his novel Argo, 6
Georgios Theotokas gives a brilliant insight into the febrile politics of
interwar Greece. In one passage he wrote that, for one-half of Greece,
Eleftherios Venizelos, the politician who so dominated the politics of
Greece during the first third of the present century, was leader, saviour
and symbol. For the other he was Satan. Such a remark might appositely
be made of Andreas Papandreou who, with his conservative counterpart,
Konstantinos Karamanlis, has dominated the politics of the last third of the
twentieth century much in the way that his lineal precursor, Theodoros
Deliyannis, together with his arch-rival, the Westernising Kharilaos
Trikoupis, overshadowed the political scene during the last third of the
nineteenth century.
It is a truism that charismatic political figures have tended to dominate
the political firmament in Greece. Deliyannis, a populist demagogue, who
carefully compiled ledgers in which he noted down the favours that he
had dispensed so that, in due course, he could ensure that they were
returned, undoubtedly reflected the sentiments and aspirations of the man
in the street more faithfully than did his more moderate rival, Trikoupis.
Charisma has brought in its wake frenzied adulation. Eleftherios
Venizelos, whose modernising project reflected the Western-oriented
strain in Greek politics, aroused adulation and execration in equal
measure. The small museum attached to the Leskhi Phileleftheron (Liberal
Club) in Athens constitutes a kind of shrine to the Liberal politician. Not
only is the bullet-riddled car in which he miraculously survived the 1933
attempt on his life reverently preserved but so too are the gold sphairidia,
or ballots, which his devotees cast in his favour (or at least made a show of
carrying to the polls), and even a half-smoked cigar.
Papandreou, a politician in the Deliyannis mould, has proved capable of
inspiring the kinds of reverence (and abuse) that Venizelos evoked.
Shortly before the 1981 election, the triumphant culmination of his 'short
march' to power, a pro-PASOK newspaper compared his triumphal entry
into Patras with Christ's entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. 7 In 1983,
one tremulous PASOK deputy averred that he had read '800 [sic] times,
all told, half a page' of Papandreou's book Paternalistic Capitalism 'but I
didn't understand a word of it. But from what I've heard, even educated
people cannot understand it. So how could we understand it. The author is
thirty years ahead of all of us. ' 8 Ballots, golden or otherwise, have not
xii Introduction
been used in Greek elections for some seventy years. But modern tech-
nology has opened up new avenues of political adulation. When Papan-
dreou became seriously ill with heart-trouble in the summer of 1988 he
visited London for treatment, displaying a lack of confidence in PASOK's
recently-established National Health Service shared by all-too-many of his
fellow countrymen. Once it was known how serious his condition was, he
was showered with telegrams from supporters offering their hearts for
transplantation. 9
Nothing better reflects Papandreou's uncanny ability to enshrine the
aspirations, the fears and, above all perhaps, the resentments and frus-
trations, of so many Greeks than the astonishing performance of his party
in the three elections of 1989/90 which brought the PASOK decade of the
1980s, which some have taken to calling the 'lost decade', to an end. Not
only was he threatened by serious health problems but highly-publicised
difficulties in his personal life had resulted in a public slanging-match with
members of his family. Eight years of the idiosyncratic 'third road' to
'socialism' had left a shattered economy, and a country dependent on EC
handouts to keep afloat. Above all, Papandreou's grip on power was
threatened by a whole series of scandals of an unprecedented gravity,
whose ramifications reached the highest levels of the party apparatus. Yet
despite these storm clouds, which would have finished a lesser politician,
the PASOK share of the vote in the three elections which were called
within the space of a year held up astonishingly well.
In the June 1989 election PASOK secured a 39 per cent share of the
vote. In November of the same year its vote actually increased to 41 per
cent. It fell back to what would appear to be its bedrock level of 39 per
cent in the election of April 1990, three percentage points higher than the
share of the vote achieved by Nea Dimokratia in the elections of 1981.
Thanks to PASOK' s manipulation (in the time-honoured manner of Greek
governments) of the electoral system on the eve of the 1989 election, Nea
Dimokratia's 47 per cent share of the vote in the April 1990 election was
enough to give it only 150 seats in the 300-seat parliament. The support of
the single successful candidate of Dimokratiki Ananeosi (a Nea
Dimokratia breakaway group) was needed to ensure that Konstantinos
Mitsotakis was able to win a formal vote of confidence in parliament by
the narrowest of margins. By contrast, PASOK's 48 per cent share of the
vote in 1981 had given it a clear majority of 172 seats in parliament.
At the end of the 1980s, then, PASOK may have been down, but it was
certainly not out. No doubt the resilience of the PASOK vote when the
party and its leader were beset by a sea of troubles reflected, in part at
least, its lavish, even profligate, dispensation of patronage. But there was
Introduction xiii
clearly more to PASOK's appeal than patronage. Papandreou's great skill
had been to articulate the aspirations of a very sizeable portion of the elec-
torate during a time of rapid economic and social change. Moreover, it
was clear by the end of the 1980s, as it had not been at the beginning, that
PASOK was likely to survive its creator and remain a major force on the
political scene for some considerable time to come.
The papers included in this volume provide numerous and varied
insights into the nature of the PASOK phenomenon and of its populist
appeal. They were originally given at a conference held in London in
April 1990. Held under the auspices of the Centre of Contemporary Greek
Studies and entitled 'Perspectives on PASOK in power', the conference
essayed an anatomy of the PASOK decade. I am grateful to the
participants for preparing their papers for publication and to Mrs Sheila
Ford who did so much behind the scenes to make the conference a
success. Three of the papers that were given, on the economy under
PASOK, on PASOK's educational policies and on Nea Dimokratia in
opposition, are regrettably not included in the present volume.
One of those that took part in the conference, George Y annopoulos,
Reader in Economics and Chairman of the Graduate School of European
and International Studies in the University of Reading, has since died.
George Y annopoulos, an outstanding scholar and delightful companion,
was always brimming with fascinating tales of the paraskinia of Greek
politics. During the dark years of the Colonels' dictatorship he had been
tireless and selfless in his efforts to bring about a restoration of democ-
racy. The present volume is dedicated to his memory.
Richard Clogg
St Antony's College


1. See, inter alia, C. M. Woodhouse, The Rise and Fall of the Greek Colonels
(London, 1985).
2. See the excellent analysis of D. H. Close, The Character of the Metaxas
Dictatorship: An international perspective, Centre of Contemporary Greek
Studies, Occasional Paper 3 (London 1990).
3. See, for instance, Geoffrey Pridham (ed.), The New Mediterranean Democracies:
Regime transition in Spain, Greece and Portugal (London, 1985); Guillermo
O'Donnell, Philippe C. Schmitter and Lawrence Whitehead (eds), Transitions
from Authoritarian Rule: Prospects for democracy (Baltimore, 1986); Geoffrey
xiv Introduction
Pridham (ed.), Securing Democracy: Political parties and democratic
consolidation in southern Europe (London 1990) and Geoffrey Pridham (ed.),
Encouraging Democracy: The international context of regime transition in
Southern Europe (Leicester, 1991).
4. Spourdalakis's pioneering English-language monograph, The Rise of the Greek
Socialist Party (London 1988), while somewhat inchoate and coloured by the
disappointed expectations of a one-time PASOK cadre-member turned critic,
contains many revealing insights into the nature of what the author diagnoses as
the 'clientelistic, autocratic and petty-bourgeois nature' of a party which
demonstrates an 'incredible capacity to claim one thing while doing another'
(pp. 12, 258).
5. For a succinct and balanced introduction to the complexities of Greek-Turkish
differences in the Aegean, see Andrew Wilson, The Aegean Dispute (London
1979/80), International Institute for Strategic Studies, Adelphi papers no. 155.
6. First published in Greece in 1933-36. An English translation was published in
London in 1951.
7. Stephanos Pesmazoglou, 'Titlomakhies', Synkhrona Themata, xiii (1981),
pp. 20--60.
8. Takhydromos, 9 June 1983.
9. To Vima, 15 March 1992.
1 Politics and Culture in
Greece, 1974-91:
An Interpretation
P. Nikiforos Diamandouros

The concept of 'political culture' is intimately identified with the growth,

at the height of decolonisation, of interest in the systematic and com-
parative study of political systems and processes, especially non-Western
ones. An important conceptual tool of the developmental approach to the
study of politics, it served comparative political analysis well for over two
decades. 1
Its undeniable utility notwithstanding, 'political culture' was, from the
very start, subjected to a number of criticisms. Among the more cogent
was the charge that, as constructed and used in most of the literature on
comparative politics, it tended to reflect excessively the intellectual
preoccupations implicit in an approach to the study of culture centring on
values and beliefs and, hence, on the individual as the basic unit of
analysis. Another, more general, criticism held that, as used in the political
development literature, culture was often reduced to a residual role in
political analysis, being assigned a distinctly subordinate position in
relation to social, economic and other factors as an explanatory device in
the study of politics.
Significant changes, over the past decade and a half, in the way culture
is conceptualised and studied have greatly expanded its analytical and
interpretative potential. In the process, they have made it possible for
students of comparative politics to derive new and richer insights capable
of addressing some of the earlier concerns regarding the ways in which
attention to cultural processes can enhance the study of politics.
Chief among these changes has been the increasing ascendancy of a
broader conceptualisation of culture, particularly salient in anthropology
but, by now, shared by many disciplines, which places primary emphasis
on shared assumptions and meaning systems held by collectivities rather
than on values and beliefs held by individuals. In so doing, it brings
together cognitive and symbolic approaches to the study of politics and
society and moves the focus of inquiry beyond the level of behaviour to
2 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
the deeper, underlying 'pattem[s] of basic assumptions -invented, dis-
covered, or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its
problems of external adaptation or internal integration'. Seen in this way,
culture can be regarded as a complex and dynamic characteristic of a
whole system, which is constantly being negotiated by the continuing and
multifaceted interaction between state and society and which, if genuinely
integrative, permeates every institution and aspect of behaviour in it. 2
Such a conceptualisation of culture has had multiple and benign effects
on the study of politics. It has allowed analysis to focus on macro-historical
perspectives and larger structures; has directed attention to the processes of
changes responsible for the generation of solidaristic arrangements in
society, directly or indirectly affecting politics; and has helped render more
readily intelligible the aggregations of discrete items derived from survey
research. In addition, the shift in analytical focus which this
reconceptualisation of culture implies helps address some of the problems
associated with the continuing search for linkages capable of effectively
connecting the micro- and macro-levels in political science inquiry.
It is within such a framework of analysis that I should like to approach
the interrelation between culture and politics in post-authoritarian Greece,
where, with rare exceptions, this subject, whether in its more traditional
(political culture) or more recent (culture and politics) conceptualisations,
remains severely under-researched. 3
The social, political and cultural struggles of the early nineteenth
century, which revolved around the rise of Greek nationalism and the
construction of the modem state in that country, gave rise to two sharply
conflicting cultures which emerged during the tumultuous war of liberation
in the 1820s and crystallised in the course of the ensuing two to three
decades. Over time, these rival cultures became a central and permanent
feature of society which, through continuous accretions and adaptations,
has profoundly affected the country's politics down to the present.
A distinctive feature of both cultures is that they often cut across society
and are not exclusively identified with a specific political party. This has
greatly undermined the capacity of the political parties to serve as
effective mechanisms of interest-aggregation and has decisively con-
tributed to the historic incapacity of both cultures to render permanent
their temporary ascendancy.
Two interrelated developments which Greece shares with other late-
industrialising societies added to the intensity of the conflict between the
rival cultures: the particular way in which the modem state was established
through the massive importation of Western, liberal political institutions of
primarily British (parliamentary system) and French (administration)
P. Nikiforos Diamandouros 3
inspiration; and the tense, fragile and antagonistic state-society relationship
which was the product of the negative articulation between exogenously-
derived state institutions and the overwhelmingly precapitalist economy
and society to which they were wedded. 4
The development of both cultures involved multiple and overlapping
processes of (a) accretion; (b) adaptation to, or assimilation of, new
domestic or international forces and developments affecting the Greek
scene; and (c) interaction with one another. Though the results of these
processes often resemble multiple layers of a palimpsest which render
earlier accretions or configurations less readily discernible in their details,
the major assumptions informing each of the twin cultures have remained
quite identifiable over time. This chapter consists of two parts. The first
undertakes an anatomy of these two cultures in their historical evolution
and ideal-typical characteristics. The second makes use of these concepts
in an interpretation of the politics of post-authoritarian Greece, with
special emphasis on the 1980s.


The older of the two cultures reflects the historical realities of the Greek
longue duree. Steeped in the Balkan-Ottoman heritage and profoundly
influenced by the Weltanschauung of an Orthodox Church which, for
historical as well as theological reasons, had long maintained a strongly,
and occasionally militant, anti-Western stance, this is a culture marked by
a pronounced introvertedness; a powerful statist orientation coupled by
profound ambivalence concerning capitalism and the market mechanism; a
decided preference for paternalism and protection, and a lingering
adherence to precapitalist practices; a universe of moral sentiments in
which parochial and, quite often, primordial attachments and the
intolerance of the alien which these imply predominate; a latent author-
itarian temperament fostered by the structures of Ottoman rule and by the
powerful cultural legacy of what Weber so perceptively called 'sultanistic
regimes'; and a diffident attitude towards innovation.s
Reflecting the historical absence of large property-ownership in the
country and the lack of pronounced social class distances, this culture is
also distinguished by a potent, indeed levelling, egalitarianism which, over
time, has played an ambivalent and problematic role in the social and
political conflicts affecting the democratisation process. In fact this is, in
many ways, a predemocratic culture, with a distinct preference for small
and familiar structures compatible with the unmediated exercise of power
4 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
and closely associated with the clientelistic practices which for so long
dominated, and, in a different form, continue to influence, politicallife.6
A related but axial dimension of this culture is a pronounced xeno-
phobia rooted, in great part, in the country's mostly traumatic experiences
in the realm of international politics. The historical sources of this
xenophobia include (a) the 'conditional sovereignty' which, for a century
following liberation from Ottoman rule, characterised the country's formal
status in international relations, sharply restricting its freedom of move-
ment and resulting in a plethora of embarrassing and humiliating experi-
ences; (b) the thwarted nationalist ambitions associated with the
highly-contested, long and tortuous historical process which gave birth to
the successor states of the Ottoman empire in the Balkans; and (c) the
troubled and divisive role played in domestic politics either by foreign
powers or by indigenous structures directly or indirectly identified with
Stripped to its essentials, the xenophobic element so pronounced in the
older of the rival cultures can be said to involve (a) a distinct preference
for conspiratorial interpretations of events; (b) an exaggerated yet insecure
sense of nationalism which has consistently overshadowed the democratic
element within the culture; (c) a siege mentality combined with a
distinctly defensive perception of the international environment; (d) a
manichean division of the world into 'philhellenes' and 'mishellenes'; (e)
a pronounced sense of cultural inferiority towards the Western world, cou-
pled with a hyperbolic and misguided sense of the importance of Greece in
international affairs and, more generally, in the history of Western civilisa-
tion; and finally (f) a clear inclination to identify with other collectivities
or individuals (e.g. Arabs and, more particularly, Palestinians, Armenians,
and Kurds) perceived to have suffered at the hands of the West. 7
In short, this can be described as a powerful 'underdog' culture which,
whether at the mass or the elite levels, became, over time, particularly
entrenched among the very extensive, traditional, more introverted and
least competitive strata and sectors of society and was more fully
elaborated by intellectuals adhering to this tradition. The distinguishing
characteristic of these strata was their involvement in activities (subsist-
ence agriculture, petty commodity production not geared to exports,
finance, import-substitution industries, and the inflated and unproductive
state- and wider public sector) marked, above all, by low productivity,
low competitiveness, the absence or tenuousness of economic, political,
and cultural linkages to the outer world and to the international economy,
the aversion to reform and, hence, the lack of a concrete projet de
societe. 8
P. Nikiforos Diamandouros 5
The sheer size of these strata, the lingering influence derived from their
traditional dominance within society, and an enormous capacity for
adaptability which ensured their survival and even their proliferation,
rendered less discernible, for a long time, the mortal threat to their
continuing vitality posed, over the long run, by the gradual modernisation
and development of the economy, society and polity. Reflecting both this
long-term pressure and the incapacity of these strata, because of the
lateness and weakness of industrialisation, to generate a concrete societal
project and to forge strategies of collective action capable of generating
viable alternatives to marginalisation, the pivotal principle of this culture
has been a pervasive, lasting, ever-adaptable but diffuse sense of
defensiveness, inequity, victimisation and persecution, coupled with
enormous staying power, tenacity, and an obsessive preoccupation with
short-term perspectives to the detriment of long-term considerations.
These characteristics permeate the mechanisms through which this culture
perceives, interprets, and internalises events and developments and
constructs its imagery and system of shared assumptions. This, finally, is a
culture which, with some fluctuation, can be said to claim the allegiance of
a majority of the population over time.
The younger of the twin cultures of Greece draws its intellectual origins
from the Enlightenment and from the tradition of political liberalism
issuing from it. Secular and extrovert in orientation, it has tended to look to
the nations of the advanced industrial West for inspiration and for support
in implementing its programmes. Over time, it has been identified with a
distinct preference for reform, whether in society, economy or polity,
designed to promote rationalisation along liberal, democratic and capitalist
lines. 9 Favourable to the market mechanism and supportive of the use of
the state to foster competition and an internationally competitive economy,
it has been more receptive to innovation and less apprehensive of the costs
involved in the break with tradition. More outward-looking and less
parochial than its rival, this is a culture which, on the whole, has tended to
favour rather than to oppose the creation and proliferation of international
linkages and to promote Greece's integration into the international system.
At the political level, the lasting links with liberalism have closely
identified this cultural tradition with a quest for constitutionalism and, more
generally, with a commitment to democracy, whether of the earlier, liberal
or more recent, political variety, as a major long-term goal worth pursuing
despite occasional reversals. Implicit in this conceptualisation of demo-
cracy is a distinct and normative preference for the mediated exercise of
power, through the establishment and gradual consolidation of modem
political institutions suited to that purpose. A by-product of this emphasis
6 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
on the critical significance of institutions for the success of the long march
to democracy is the desire to diminish the pervasive influence of clien-
telistic relations in politics and the dependence on personalistic structures
which it implies.
The major social and political actors who became the primary carriers of
this culture, sharing and shaping its assumptions, adopting and adapting its
imagery, have been (a) within Greece, the popular strata and elites more
closely identified with cultural, economic (agricultural, commercial, or, over
time, industrial), and political activities linking them to the international
system; (b) the Greek diaspora communities in the Ottoman empire, southern
Russia, and Western Europe, a large segment of which was engaged in
commercial and, to a lesser extent, banking activities, which linked it to deve-
lopments in the international political, cultural and economic environment;
and (c) their intellectual exponents, both inside and outside the Greek state.
The particular composition of these actors and their position in the
international division of labour determined, in large part, the specific ways
in which this culture internalised and negotiated domestic as well as
international developments af(ecting politics and society. More
specifically, I would argue that a crucial component of the overall process
affecting the development of this culture derives from the historical
experience of the diaspora communities, and, especially, their bourgeois
segment, as powerful but also interstitial actors in the countries where they
were settled. The rise of nationalism in multiethnic states during the latter
part of the nineteenth century and the intrusion of powerful and com-
petitive Western capital in the territories inhabited by these communities
emphasized this interstitiality, by adding to their sense of vulnerability and
by highlighting the precarious and impermanent nature of their position.
It was these collective experiences which imparted in the cultural
tradition identified with these social forces a keen appreciation of both the
opportunities and dangers arising from the volatility of the domestic and
international environments in Greece. This increased sensitivity translated,
in tum, into a system of shared assumptions which (a) placed a premium on
quick adaptation to changing circumstances; (b) fostered an imitative
temperament eclectically open to ideas and currents emanating from
Western European cultural milieus; (c) spawned a cultural cosmopoli-
tanism linked to an often exalted sense of Greece's international impor-
tance; (d) gave rise to a more sophisticated, less phobic relationship with
the foreign 'other'; (e) engendered a manipulative approach to international
relations which coexisted uncomfortably with a more realistic and occa-
sionally creative sense of the opportunities but also the limitations facing a
P. Nikiforos Diamandouros 7
small country such as Greece, as it attempted to promote its international
policies in a traditionally sensitive area of the world; and (f) brought forth a
powerful nationalism tempered and influenced by the greater weight this
tradition accorded to the pursuit of reform and of democratisation. 10
In short. this is a modernising and reformist culture favouring moderate
and incremental change. The cosmopolitan Weltanschauung of these social
forces was the ascendant cultural element in the Greek world from the latter
part of the nineteenth century until the early to mid-1930s. From then on
and until the end of the colonels' authoritarian regime in 1974, it entered a
period of slow but pronounced decline paralleling the gradual destruction
of the diaspora communities and the exhaustion of the Venizelist project,
both of which had long sustained it.
During this long period, the underdog culture experienced a growing
ascendancy in politics. The structural changes in both domestic and
international politics associated with the establishment of the Third Greek
Republic in 1974 and subsequent entry into the European Community
imparted a new vitality to this tradition and helped it embark upon a
period of considerable resurgence which has enabled it gradually to
challenge its modernising rival in a bid for ascendancy during the current
phase in the evolution of political life. The confrontation between the rival
cultures which this challenge has brought about has resulted in a
significant indeterminacy and uncertainty that has left its imprint on the
developments of the last decade and a half. It is to these that we shall now


The year 1974 unquestionably marks a watershed in the development of

both cultures. The establishment, in that year, of full political democracy,
for the first time, changed the structures of political life in profound and
lasting ways. Obscured by unquestionable continuities embedded in die
restorative rather than the instaurative element of the transition, the advent
of political democracy set off novel and powerful long-term processes of
social and political change which have profoundly affected the evolution
of the two cultures. The most salient of these ongoing processes are:
(a) the emancipation of the conduct of foreign policy from foreign
tutelage; (b) the democratisation of domestic politics, with significant
consequences for society and culture; and (c) the internationalisation and,
8 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
more specifically, Europeanisation of politics and culture, a development
intimately connected with accession to the European Community. 11
These three processes define a frame of reference which allows us to
speak of the post-authoritarian years as a period in which the dominant
imagery and discourse have, in the broad sense of the term, been
democratic. More specifically, while earlier periods were marked by
struggles concerning the quest for democracy, the dominant discourse
during the current phase reflects conflicts and disagreements concerning
the type of democracy which should prevail in Greece. In this context, the
shared assumptions and systems of meaning informing the two rival
cultures have been significantly different.
The post-authoritarian period is, for the purposes of this analysis,
divided into two sub-periods. The first extends from 1974 to 1985. The
second begins in the latter year and continues to date. The major criterion
underpinning such a periodisation is the capacity of the polity and
economy successfully to incorporate and to integrate the extensive and
upwardly mobile social strata effectively marginalised within the postwar,
anti-communist system and excluded from autonomous participation in it.
The first sub-period, which I shall call 'the incorporative moment', was
distinguished by (a) the incorporation of these strata into the political
democracy established after 1974; (b) their autonomous participation in the
political system through the institutional mechanisms provided for that
purpose primarily by PASOK and the Greek Communist Party (KKE); and
(c) their clear ideological (1974-81) and political ascendancy (1981-85) in
society and politics. The post-1985 period, which I shall call the 'moment
of entrenchment', is to be understood as a period in which the incorporative
momentum reached its limits, as the social forces which had served as its
main carriers sought to consolidate their gains and to entrench themselves
in their newly-acquired social and political space, in the process acting
more as confining conditions inhibiting the restructuring and
transformation necessary for their substantive integration into the economy
and society than as a vehicle for further change. 12

The emancipation of foreign policy

The Cyprus d6bicle of 1974 and its aftereffects constitute the inter-
national dimension of the three central developments defining the
multiple significance of 1974 in contemporary Greek history and politics.
At its most visible level, the crisis unleashed by the Turkish invasion of
Cyprus and Greece's inability effectively either to prevent it or reverse it
brought about a number of structural changes in her international relations.
P. Nikiforos Diamandouros 9
The most significant of these were: (a) the move away from an exclusive
and often slavish dependence on the United States and NATO; (b) the
adoption of a more European stance underscored by eventual accession to
the European Community; (c) the development of closer ties with a
number of states, especially those in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and the
Soviet Union; and (d) more generally, the emergence of a more inde-
pendent presence in the international system.
The reorientation of foreign policy away from American tutelage
affected the twin cultures in significant ways. In the discourse of the
modernising culture, the language and imagery of enhanced sovereignty
resonated with the sense of pride and achievement implicit in the
newfound capacity to reduce the intensity of the country's links with the
United States and to privilege, instead, the European option through
participation in the European Community. The ability to subordinate
purely military and strategic considerations to political and economic ones
was also seen as enhancing the logic of modernisation, rationalisation and
reform and of commensurately benefiting the modernising culture.
On the other hand, it was the more negative experiences and images
associated with the Cyprus crisis and its aftermath which, on the whole,
left their mark on the underdog culture. The wave of anti-Americanism
unleashed by the perceived partiality of the United States in favour of
Turkey during the 1974 crisis as well as by the conviction of large sectors
concerning American complicity in the April 1967 coup d'etat helped to
exacerbate the xenophobic element in the underdog culture. The powerful
but latent anti-Westernism and the levelling and reductionist logic which
run deep through this culture came forcefully to the fore in the form of
arguments suggesting that the shift from the Atlantic to the European
option represented a mere change of hegemon for Greece. The same
visceral anti-Westernism, combined with the simultaneous rejection of the
'existing socialism' of the Eastern bloc as a viable alternative model, led
to the adoption by PASOK and its adherents of pronounced Third World
orientations which strengthened latent but powerful identifications with
other peoples perceived to share with Greece a common heritage of
exploitation by Western capitalism.
Most analysts of Greek foreign policy correctly observe that these
extreme attitudes became significantly tempered with the passage of time.
During PASOK's first term in office, to be sure, the structural imperatives
of foreign relations made it necessary sharply to curtail the use of
language and imagery derived from the shared assumptions of the
underdog culture in the design and execution of foreign policy. Such use
as there was, was either confined to the level of rhetoric or channelled into
10 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
initiatives which did not unduly damage the country's vital foreign
concems. 13

The democratisation of domestic politics

As already noted, the advent of political democracy and the resulting

incorporation into the political system of social forces which, since the
end of the civil war, had remained effectively excluded from, or marginal
to, the politkal process had a profound effect on the two cultures. To be
sure, the circumstances under which this exclusion or marginalisation had
taken place, whether in the liberal (1949-67) or the authoritarian
(1967-74) phases of the postwar system had directly affected the under-
dog culture. More specifically, the collective and individual experiences of
bitterness, frustration, resentment, and deprivation associated with the
exclusion and marginalisation of these dislocated and ideologically
disoriented but upwardly mobile strata during the postwar period greatly
reinforced the imagery of injustice and inequity that are salient charac-
teristics of this culture.
The incorporation of these strata into the political system, brought about
by the 1974 transition to democracy, inaugurated a significant reversal of
this situation. A structural characteristic of this incorporation was the
autonomous participation of these newly-emancipated strata into an open
and fully-competitive political system. In tum, emancipation and auto-
nomy were intimately related to the legalisation of the communist parties
and, above all, to the establishment of the first non-communist, mass party
in Greek history, the Panellinio Sosialistiko Kinima (PASOK).
Given the astoundingly rapid initial growth and its enduring presence as
one of the major political formations in post-authoritarian Greece, PASOK
deserves particular attention in this context. As I have argued elsewhere,
its founding positively affected the structure of politics in a number of
specific ways: by setting in motion the process whereby the two major
political formations, the centre and the right, were transformed from
parties of notables into mass parties; by providing for the ideological and
political rehabilitation of formerly excluded or marginalised strata; by
creating a new political space, the centre-left, never before occupied by a
significant and enduring political formation; by commensurately
expanding the political spectrum; by giving specific institutional and
culturally-substantive content to national reconciliation for the first time
since the civil war; by greatly increasing political participation; and by
contributing to the most significant renewal of the political class since
Eleftherios Venizelos's rise to power in 1910. 14
P. Nikiforos Diamandouros 11

The normalisation and democratisation of politics which these

developments implied greatly enhanced the modernising culture's
momentum and provided it with a new dynamic. The quest for the
deepening of democracy as well as for the enlargement of its scope took a
variety of forms. Underpinning all of these, however, was the desire to
bring politics and economy closer to the norms and patterns prevailing in
the advanced industrial democracies of Europe. Central to such a demo-
cratic deepening was the acceptance of the social role of the state and of
market liberalisation within the context of a mixed economy as axial
aspects of political and economic reform. Taken together, these and
associated developments constituted tangible evidence of the way in
which the imagery and symbolism so closely identified with central
assumptions of the modernising culture were shaping the moral discourse
of the incorporative moment in the post-authoritarian period and pro-
moting the further evolution of political democracy towards additional
reform, institutionalisation, and rationalisation of its structures. Is
From the very beginning of the post-authoritarian period, democrat-
isation likewise occupied a central position in the discourse of the underdog
culture. Reduced to its essentials, democratisation, in the context of the
underdog culture, involved two temporally interconnected but analytically
distinct processes: the first was marked by the triumphant rise to political
equality and subsequent political and ideological ascendancy of the social
forces adhering to this culture. Graphically captured by the green rising sun
used by PASOK as its major symbol, this process constituted the essence of
what I have called the incorporative moment in post-authoritarian politics
and culture. In however inchoate and inarticulate ways, it expressed the
profound sense of exhilaration and satisfaction brought about by the
political rehabilitation and self-assertion of erstwhile marginalised and
excluded strata. The coming of PASOK to power in 1981 in the vanguard
of what had become known as the country's 'progressive forces' marked
the high point in these strata's long march to political power.
Obscured by the euphoria generated by the triumphant side of the incor-
porative moment, a second and qualitatively more significant process ac-
quired increasing momentum. This was a process of critical long-term
importance for the type of democracy envisaged by the underdog culture.
Central to its imagery were prominent features of this culture which gradual-
ly came to the fore in the 1970s and early 1980s. The more salient of these
were: (a) a levelling egalitarianism especially apparent in the worldview of
the petit bourgeois, agrarian, and working-class strata most closely identi-
fied with this culture; (b) a distinct preference for the unmediated exercise of
power and, hence, for charismatic leadership; (c) a consequent indifference,
12 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
and even hostility towards intennediary institutions and structures; (d) a
compensatory sense of justice distinguished by the inchoate but powerful
desire to settle old scores and to compensate for past sufferings; (e) a power-
ful and pervasive populist ideology replete with manichean and reductionist
logics; and (f) fiercely particularistic attitudes concerning social benefits,
reflecting this culture's profound diffidence towards capitalism and its
preference for protectionist arrangements and, more generally, entitlements.
The notion of entitlements is crucial for an understanding of the type of
democratic politics fostered by the underdog culture. It essentially repre-
sented an attempt politically, socially and economically to empower the
least competitive political and social forces. Threatened, as they were, by
the prospect of further rationalisation of political and economic practices
inherent in the alternative conception of democracy identified with the
modernising culture, these extensive and recently-empowered strata
sought refuge in a populist democracy capable of ensuring their long-term
survival by securing for them politically strong positions in a variety of
structures (political parties, trade unions, cooperatives, the state, and the
wider public sector- the prefectural councils, etc.).
Though clearly in the ascendant from the early years following the
transition to democracy, this populist conception of democracy reached its
apogee during 1981-85, when PASOK's coming to power made it
possible to realise many of these goals. In this sense, the underdog culture
can be said to have served as the logic of integration during the first
decade of the post-authoritarian period. 16
As had been the case in the past, the two rival cultures did not, during
this period, coincide neatly with any one particular party. A careful
reading of the evidence amply confirms that, if a populist conception of
democracy was a more salient aspect of the discourse articulated by
PASOK and the KKE, similar views were voiced within the conservative
camp. The reductionist logic which often pervaded Nea Dimokratia's
utterings and imagery constituted strong evidence that populism, which, it
should be noted, had played an important role in the discourse articulated
by the colonels' authoritarian regime, was not an exclusive preserve of the
non-conservative forces. In short, the two cultures cut, to a significant
degree, across the major political parties and defied facile, unidimensional
identifications with party structures. 17

The European dimension of Greek politics

The third element of structural change in post-authoritarian politics and

society, which profoundly affected the rival cultural traditions, springs
P. Nikiforos Diamandouros 13
from accession to the European Community, which was especially
important for the modernising culture. Its significance should be
understood at two interconnected levels. The first has already been alluded
to: entry into the Community held out the prospect of both political and
economic rationalisation and reform-concepts central to the modernising
culture. The Community was seen as a guarantor of democratic stability
and enhanced security as well as a catalyst for much-needed structural
change. 18
At a deeper level, however, entry into the Community and the prospects
for ever-growing integration should be understood as having set in motion
a powerful long-term process which, though originating outside Greece,
was to become an integral part of the domestic political scene and
profoundly to affect the country's political, economic and cultural settings.
In a very specific sense, it can be argued that the special weight of this
'external' factor and the unquestionable momentum it imparted in the
modernising culture created a unique historic opportunity for the latter to
emerge as the permanently ascendant logic of integration in society and
politics and to serve, henceforth, as the dominant cultural discourse
framing the parameters for the debates concerning the country's future
evolution within the broader international and European system.
Three major implications arising from this development deserve
comment. First, the conceptualisation of the Community as the sine qua
non of structural changes in politics and the economy and as the crucial
locomotive force which will sufficiently empower the domestic exponents
of the modernising culture to effect necessary change, poignantly
highlights the structural weaknesses of these forces and their historic
inability to overcome the tenacious resistance of strata adhering to the
underdog culture and permanently to impose the modernising culture as
the dominant logic of integration in the country.
Second, such an eventuality was certain to be, and indeed was,
perceived as posing a mortal threat to the social and political forces
identifying with the underdog culture and, more generally, as constituting
a supreme challenge to some of its axial principles. As such, it was bound
to generate fierce resistance, emotional reaction and visceral opposition
that were only partially offset by the material benefits which membership
bestowed upon the less competitive segments of society-adherents, by
definition, of the underdog culture.
Third, as a result of the above considerations, the debates concerning
the Community from the very start tellingly pointed to the radically dif-
ferent ways by which each of the rival cultures internalised the signi-
ficance of accession to the Community. Viewed especially from the
14 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
perspective of the underdog culture, the Community was, thus, bound to
be perceived in demonological terms. The intensity of opposition which
the European Community produced within the underdog culture (at least
until the material benefits of accession became tangible in the early 1980s)
is better understood if placed in the additional context of the sudden and
meteoric rise of Greek socialism during the years of the incorporative
moment. Rooted in deeply ambivalent attitudes towards capitalism, long-
ingrained in this culture, Greek socialism, in the specifically populist
content and meaning which Andreas Papandreou and the dominant current
within PASOK imparted to it since 1974 drew heavily upon a number of
shared assumptions central to the definition of the underdog culture and of
the extensive social strata adhering to it. Chief among these are (a) a
powerful affective preference for small structures - a phenomenon
reflecting, among other things, the fact that Greece has the largest per-
centage of petty-commodity producers in all of the European Community;
(b) a strong dislike of competition in the market; (c) a distinct bias for
state protection designed to ensure the perpetuation of small and unpro-
ductive units and structures; (d) a fear of large and impersonal structures
and of the processes of reform and rationalisation associated with
advanced industrial capitalism; and (e) a levelling egalitarianism charac-
terised by a zero-sum view of the world and permeated by a reductionist
logic and a conception of social justice which assigns primacy to the
redistribution of resources while disparaging production and growth. In a
very real sense, then, Greek socialism served as a powerful channel for the
articulation of the polemical and defensive reactions which entry in the
Community produced among the underdog culture's adherents. 19

The moment of entrenchment

If 1974 launched the exuberant phase in post-authoritarian politics, then

1985, by contrast, inaugurated a reverse trend and ushered in a period
during which the underdog culture and its political and ideological carriers
(a) experienced a distinct loss of momentum and (b) increasingly resorted
to defensive strategies designed to prevent the erosion of gains realised
during the incorporative moment and to ensure their continuing capacity to
play a central, if no longer ascendant, role in politics. Success in the
pursuit of this strategy has meant that the heretofore ascendant forces
adhering to the underdog culture have effectively emerged as the confining
condition inhibiting further rationalisation and modernisation of the
political system. As such, this development entitles us to regard this period
of post-authoritarian politics as its 'moment of entrenchment'. At the same
P. Nikiforos Diamandouros 15
time, the inability of the modernising culture to overcome these confining
conditions has resulted in a period of pronounced and prolonged
indeterminacy which remains the single most salient feature of politics as
the country enters the final decade of the century.
Two qualitatively different processes, one domestic and one
international, account for this sharp reversal in the fortunes of the
underdog culture. The great expectations generated by the electoral victory
of non-conservative political forces for virtually the first time in more than
45 years obscured, at first, the incapacity of the victorious constellation
effectively to move in the direction of integrating the underdog strata in a
more rationalised and significantly restructured society, economy and
polity. With the benefit of hindsight, it is possible to state that this
incapacity manifested itself in what soon became a familiar pattern:
(a) the increasing tendency to privilege rhetoric and symbols concern-
ing restructuring and modernisation over concrete and substantive
measures designed to bring these about; and (b) the systematic recourse to
policies steeped in the logic of 'compensatory justice' and designed to
make up for deprivations, perceived or real, associated with exclusion or
marginalisation in earlier periods.
The effective outcome of these policies was a major redistribution of
massive material and symbolic resources controlled by the state in favour
of the forces adhering to the underdog culture. If the enormous expansion
of the state- and wider-public sector which occurred during this period
constituted the most tangible evidence of such redistribution of resources,
it is important to note that, given low rates of economic growth and
declining productivity, a major source of funding for these resources was
externally derived. The result of increased borrowing in the international
markets and of direct transfers from the European Community was the
political, economic, psychological and ideological empowerment of the
least competitive strata in society and the effective postponement of
sorely-needed modernisation, rationalisation, and restructuring.
To be sure, the post-1981 period did witness some structural reform.
Most notable was the change in the civil code concerning the rights of
women, arguably one of the most significant of PASOK's reforms.
Another was legislation designed to bring about decentralisation in what
traditionally has been an extraordinarily centralised state. This reform,
however, was undermined in its application by the paramount significance
which the government of the day assigned to 'compensating' loyal
adherents for past wrongs, real or perceived. Where tangible and material
'compensation' was not possible, either because of the finite nature of
resources available for distribution or simply because specific circum-
16 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
stances did not offer themselves for such a solution, the powerful populist
discourse employed by PASOK and sustained by the underdog culture
served as an effective mechanism of symbolic compensation.20
International affairs constitutes a classic example of an area where the
principle of 'compensatory' justice was, in the absence of available
tangible and material benefits, applied at the symbolic and rhetorical
levels. The frequency with which the government differentiated its
position from that of its allies in formal communiques of the European
Community or NATO; the refusal to condemn the downing of the Korean
Airlines plane by the Soviet air force; the verbal support offered to the
Jaruzelski regime in its confrontation with Solidarity forces; the
declarations in favour of the Sandinistas; and the numerous frictions in
US-Greek relations, were only partially due to the desire to establish the
fact that Greece could no longer be regarded as an obedient satellite of the
West. Equally significant was the fact that such behaviour, which sought
convincingly to demonstrate Greece's capacity to pursue an independent
foreign policy and to underscore its ability to act as a sovereign state, had
its roots in the deeply-ingrained feelings of injustice, inadequacy,
bitterness and humiliation long-associated within the context of the
underdog culture with Greece's experience in international affairs. 21
The situation changed dramatically in October 1985, immediately after
PASOK's re-election in June of that year had ensured that the same
constellation of forces would remain politically ascendant for four more
years. At that time, major, unproductive and non-rational outlays of state
funds, over the previous four years, sharply increased state-indebtedness,
and wasteful pre-electoral spending combined to produce an acute eco-
nomic crisis which could only be confronted thfough recourse to an
austere stabilisation programme. At that moment, political life in post-
authoritarian Greece symbolically and substantively entered its moment
of entrenchment. This was a period marked by two antithetical develop-
ments. The first entailed implicit recognition that the policies of the
previous four years could no longer be sustained without severe repercus-
sions. The second implied the ideological and political retreat of the forces
supporting the underdog culture, coupled with the latter's determination
tenaciously to safeguard and defend recently-secured entitlements. 22
At the level of cultural discourse and of the relation between culture
and politics which constitutes the central focus of this chapter, the
imposition of an austerity programme in October 1985 symbolises the
latest reversal in the long and continuing struggle for supremacy between
the country's two rival cultures. The clear message contained in the
austerity programme was that the logic of reform intimately identified with
P. Nikiforos Diamandouros 17
the modernising culture was, at this point, becoming ascendant in the field
of politics and economics. And, however precariously, it has retained this
ascendancy down to the present, despite the fact that the abandonment of
the austerity programme in 1987 and the last wave of profligate spending
in the period 1987-89 created the impression that the forces of the
underdog culture were, once again, on the offensive. In fact, I would argue
that, with the benefit of hindsight. these developments signal exactly the
opposite: the first of a series of rearguard actions by the forces associated
with the underdog culture, rendered all the more desperate and shrill, over
time, by the realisation that the imperatives of rationalisation and reform
were becoming extraordinarily pressing and that the necessary structural
changes in politics, economy and society which these entailed would
eventually but inevitably result in the permanent marginalisation of the
underdog culture.
I have argued, throughout this chapter, that a structural characteristic of
both cultural traditions has been their inability successfully to translate
temporary into permanent ascendancy, let alone hegemony. In view of that,
what accounts for the assertion just made that. in the past five years or so,
the preconditions for a permanent ascendancy of the modernising culture
seem to be emerging? An answer to this question brings us to the interna-
tional context of the moment of entrenchment in post-authoritarian Greece.
Putting it succinctly, I would argue that the increasing integration of
Greece into the European Community and the consequent need to adjust
its economic and political structures to those of the Community together
constitute the single most important force which, acting as an unequivocal
ally of the forces adhering to the modernising culture, is slowly but
inexorably helping to tip the balance of historical development in favour
of the permanent ascendancy of that culture. More specifically, accession
to the Community in 1981 inaugurated for Greece a period of gradual
incorporation and integration in a complex, transnational process of
economic and political restructuring, reform and rationalisation.
For Greece, the country in the Community with the smallest percentage
of its labour force employed in wage-earning activities; the country with
the largest sector of self-employed artisans and petty commodity
producers; the country with the most inflated state sector and the country
with one of the largest percentages of the labour force employed in what is
a predominantly minifundist agricultural sector, the long-term implications
of integration in the Community can only imply major restructuring of
both economic and political practices and institutions and the commen-
surate contraction of strata associated with these uncompetitive and, in
many ways, precapitalist structures.
18 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
It was for this reason that the prospect of accession to the Community
originally generated such acrimony and opposition among the social
forces adhering to the 'underdog' culture. In the years following accession
and, especially, during PASOK's second term of office (1985-89),
acrimony and opposition were gradually translated into instrumental
accommodation. While retaining intact the culture's diffidence and
opposition to the strategic goals of integration, instrumental accommo-
dation made it possible to utilise to the fullest the opportunities for short-
term gains deriving from membership in the Community.
The 'milch cow' syndrome with respect to the Community became
particularly observable during the late years of PASOK's term in office. In
a period increasingly characterised by the perceptible decline in the fortunes
of the underdog culture; by disillusionment concerning unrealised goals; by
demoralisation and defensiveness regarding the future; by recourse to an
aggressive but misguided populist discourse which belittled institutions and
promoted the arbitrary and often abusive exercise of power in the name of
the people; and by a series of minor or major financial scandals which bred
a climate of cynicism and disaffection, the Community was, more than ever
before, regarded, by many, as the last frontier for the extraction of resources
capable of supporting quick-enrichment schemes or of serving as a stop-gap
measure designed to deal with growing deficits. 23
The crucial other side of this coin, however, was that such practices led
directly to two developments: first, they rendered Community officials and
agencies familiar with many of the shared assumptions of the underdog
culture informing Greek attitudes and behaviour vis-a-vis the EC. In tum,
greater familiarity made possible the gradual development of measures
and practices designed to enhance the capacity of Community organs more
effectively to scrutinise and enforce EC policies within Greece. Second,
and more importantly, they resulted in the increasing opening of Greek
structures to Community agencies, organs and policies and commen-
surately enhanced the latter's capacity to exercise direct or indirect
influence at multiple levels of Greek affairs.
The combined impact of these two developments became increasingly
discernible during the second half of the 1980s; once, that is, a sufficient
amount of time had elapsed since accession to make possible both the
requisite knowledge and experience on the part of Community organs and
their direct insinuation in critical areas of Greek politics, economy and
society. As such, it coincided with the resurgence of the modernising
culture as the ascendant element in post-authoritarian politics and has acted
as an increasingly important ally of the social and political forces adhering
to that culture.
P. Nikiforos Diamandouros 19
This heightened presence of the Community in the political and cultural
struggles of post-authoritarian Greece became especially evident once,
under the combined weight of scandals, declining economic performance,
and widespread disillusionment, PASOK lost its majority in 1989 and,
following a series of inconclusive elections, Nea Dimokratia, the party
most closely identified with the 'European option', came to power on a
platform stressing, above all, the need for reform. 24
To be sure, the realisation of reform (and all that it implies) ultimately
depends on the capacity of the domestic social actors identifying with the
modernising tradition successfully to profit from the powerful external
support provided by the Community and its multiple structures, and
sufficiently to enhance their own position within society, economy and
politics in order to overcome the confining conditions to the permanent
ascendancy of the modernising culture which the tenacious resistance of
the strata adhering to the underdog culture ultimately represents.
It is precisely the prospect of the prevalence of the modernising culture
which explains the intensity of the reaction generated by the strata
identified with the underdog culture in the course of the last few years.
The semi-continuous mobilisation and protests of employees in the woe-
fully inefficient civil bureaucracy and the wider public sector in opposition
to measures (e.g. transfers, lay-offs, reorganisation of inefficient oper-
ations, consolidation of ailing retirement funds, etc.) designed to enhance
efficiency and rationalise operations; and the quasi-permanent agitation
among extensive artisan and self-employed strata over the prospect of
changes in work schedules, legislation concerning part-time employment,
and, more generally, measures meant to bring about greater flexibility in
the labour market, constitute concrete and powerful evidence of a social
and political retrenchment designed to safeguard vested interests and to
forestall any change in the existing, highly-protected, and uncompetitive
system of state and market organisation. It is in this sense that observers of
the Greek scene speak of the ideological prevalence of a 'guild-type
mentality' in the country in order to convey the defensive nature charac-
terising the behaviour of these embattled sectors. 25
Two major conclusions can be drawn from this state of affairs which,
above all else, graphically captures the relationship between culture and
politics in contemporary Greece: first, that the capacity of the less com-
petitive and threatened strata tenaciously to defend their vested interests
and the shared assumptions of the underdog culture has produced what I
should like to call a structured indeterminacy in the Greek polity and
society. The chief characteristics of this phenomenon are the quasi-
suspended nature of Greek historical development, its pronounced rigid-
20 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
ities, and the increasingly slower pace with which the country attempts to
follow the rapidly evolving European scene.
If, according to the analysis offered here, the domestic forces favouring
the modernising culture manage to benefit from the critical support
afforded them by growing Greek linkages with the European integration
movement to tip the historical balance of forces in their favour, this
moment of suspension - whatever its actual temporal length - may well
constitute the swan-song of a powerful cultural tradition that has played a
critical and frequently dominant role in political life since the inception of
the modem Greek state. In this case, it may be proper to think of the
coming years as a period in Greek history which parallels the experiences
so movingly captured by Arthur Miller in his Death of a Salesman. If so,
the great challenge for the state and for the social and political exponents
of the modernising culture will be to provide for the requisite measures
(e.g. retraining and reskilling mechanisms) which will ease as much as
possible the significant social dislocation and the human as well as
psychological costs associated with this painful but necessary process.
The second major conclusion to be drawn from the preceding analysis is
that, more than in most previous periods in modem Greek history, the
social and political strata adhering to, and supporting, each of the two rival
cultures cut across the entire political spectrum and do not neatly coincide
with one particular party. This conclusion has been poignantly driven
home by the realisation that the patent inability of Nea Dimokratia to
implement the programme of restructuring and rationalisation with which
it came to power in 1990 is, above all else, due to the fierce intra-party
resistance to the prospect of such implementation put up by extensive
social strata loyal to the party but also adhering to the underdog culture.
One result of this development has been an increasing timidity, indeed
unwillingness, on the part of all political parties from right to left to risk in-
curring the 'political cost' associated with open and determined support for
measures which all admit are necessary for the rationalisation and restruc-
turing of both economy and polity. Another, more auspicious result, is the
increasing activation of organised interests in civil society which espouse
the major shared assumptions of the modernising culture, vocally call for
movement in that direction and, in cases such as the one exemplified by the
Federation of Greek Industries and the General Confederation of Greek
Workers, take concrete and correct measures designed to bring such
movement about 26
While underscoring the fact that the confrontation over the issue of
modernisation transcends parties and traditional labour-capital divides,
these developments could also be seen as constituting tangible evidence
P. Nikiforos Diamandouros 21

that, under the combined pressures emanating from the Community, the
broader international environment and the domestic adherents of the
modernising culture, (a) the confining conditions to the long-sought and
much-needed modernisation and restructuring of Greek polity, society,
economy and culture are, however slowly, on the way to being overcome;
(b) the prolonged agony associated with the state of structured indeter-
minacy appears to be entering its d6nouement; and (c) the modernising
culture seems to be on its way to becoming the dominant logic of
integration in political and cultural life. Success in this direction will mean
that Greece will, with significant delay, be following the trajectory already
travelled by Spain and Italy and being travelled currently by Portugal. The
eventual shape of the Greek reform project will, of course, depend on the
speed with which this change can be accomplished and on the depth which
it can acquire. The quality of political life and, more generally, the nature
of democracy in Greece will hang in the balance.


1. On the concept of 'political culture', see among others, Lucian W. Pye and Sidney
Verba (eds), Political Culture and Political Development (Princeton, 1965);
Lucian W. Pye, 'Political culture', in David L. Sills (ed.), International
Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (New York, 1968), XII, pp. 218-25; the
classic statement by Gabriel A. Almond and Sidney Verba, The Civic Culture:
PoUtical attitudes and democracy in jive nations (Boston, 1965), as well as idem,
The Civic Culture Revisited (Boston, 1980); Lowell Dittmer, 'Political culture
and political symbolism. Towards a theoretical synthesis', World Politics, xxix
(1977), pp. 552-83; and G. M. Patrick, 'Political culture', in Giovanni Sartori
(ed.), Social Science Concepts (Beverly Hills, 1984), pp. 265-314.
2. For the quotation, see Edgar Schein, Organizotional Culture and Leadership (San
Francisco, 1985), p. 9. More generally, on the rising significance of culture in the
study of politics, see Richard A. Schweder and Robert A. LeVine (eds), Culture
Theory. Essays on mind, self, and emotion (New York, 1984) and~ from a
different perspective, Anthony Giddens, A Contemporary Critique of Historical
Materialism, Vol. 1, Power, Property and the State (Berkeley, 1981). For a
theoretically-informed analysis dealing with Greece, see Michael Herzfeld,
Anthropology Through the Looking-Glass: Critical ethnography in the margins of
Europe (Cambridge, 1987).
3. The more notable works on Greek political culture include Maro Pantelidou-
Malouta, Politikes staseis kai antilipseis stin archi tis ejiveias. Politiki
kainonikopoiisi sto p/aisio tis Ellinikis politikis kaultouras (Athens, 1987); the
more recent and more theoretical work by Nikos Demertzis, Koultoura,
neoterikotita, politiki koultoura (Athens, 1989); George Tb. Mavrogordatos et al.,
'Syngritiki erevna politikis koultouras stis kbores tis Notias Evropis: eisagogikes
paratireseis', The Greek Review of Social Research,lxxix (1988), pp. 5-24; and
the special issue of The Greek Review of Social Research, lxxv (1990}. Finally,
22 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
for an historical approach to the study of Greek political culture, see P. Nikiforos
Diamandouros, 'Greek political culture in transition: historical origins, evolution,
current trends', in Richard Clogg (ed.), Greece in the 1980s (London, 1983),
4. On the late nature of Greek industrialisation, see Nicos P. Mouzelis, Modem
Greece: Facets of underdevelopment (London, 1978), pp. 3-29; on the
importation of liberal, Western political institutions and on the struggles
surrounding it, see P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, 'Political Modernization, Social
Conflict and Cultural Cleavage in the Formation of the Modem Greek State,
1821-1828', unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1972; and
John A. Petropulos, Politics and Statecraft in the Kingdom of Greece, 1833-1843
(Princeton, 1968).
5. On the Greek Orthodox Church, its relation with state authority, in general, and
the modem Greek state, in particular, see, among others, Philip Sherrard, The
Greek East and Latin West. A study in the Christian tradition (London, 1959);
Charles A. Frazee, The Orthodox Church and Independent Greece 1821-1852
(Cambridge, 1969); and Kallistos Ware, 'The Church: a time of transition', in
Richard Clogg (ed.), Greece in the 1980s, pp. 208--30. On the statist tradition in
Greece, see, especially, Konstantinos Tsoukalas, Koinoniki anaptyxi kai kratos:
syngrotisi tou dimosiou khorou stin Ellada (Athens, 1981).
6. On the relationship between clientelism and politics in Greece, see Keith R. Legg,
Politics in Modem Greece (Stanford, 1969); Constantine Tsoucalas, 'On the
problem of political clientelism in Greece in the nineteenth century', Journal of
the Hellenic Diaspora, v (1978), pp. 5-17 and, more recently, Khristos Lyrintzis,
Koinonia kai politiki stin Akhaia tou 19ou aiona: to telos ton tzakion (Athens,
7. Greece's relations with foreign powers have been the subject of a voluminous
and uneven literature. For a balanced and valuable introduction to the subject, see
Theodore A. Couloumbis, John A. Petropulos and Harry J. Psorniades, Foreign
Interference in Greek Politics (New York, 1976). For the concept of 'conditional
sovereignty', see Nicholas Kaltchas,1ntroduction to the Constitutional History of
Modem Greece (New York, 1965).
8. For a thorough and ground-breaking study linking particular social strata to each
of the rival Greek traditions, see George Th. Mavrogordatos, Stillborn Republic:
Social coalitions and party strategies in Greece, 1922-1936 (Berkeley, 1983).
For a more theoretical treatment of the same topic, see Konstantinos Tsoukalas,
Kratos, koinonia, ergasia sti metapolemiki Ellada (Athens, 1987).
9. On the intellectual roots of the modernising tradition in the Enlightenment and in
Western liberalism, see, especially, Paschalis M. Kitrornilides, 'Tradition,
Enlightenment and Revolution: Ideological change in eighteenth and nineteenth
century Greece', unpublished PhD dissertation, Harvard University, 1978; on the
reformist tradition, see, among others, Katerina Gardikas, 'Party Politics in
Greece, 1875-1885: Towards a two-party system', unpublished PhD dissertation,
King's College, University of London, 1988.
10. On the significance of the diaspora for modern Greek development and,
indirectly, for its impact on the modernising culture, see, among others,
Constantine Tsoucalas, 'Dependance et reproduction. Le r6le des appareils
scolaires en Grece', unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Paris I, 1975;
George Dertilis, 'Social Change and Military Intervention in Politics: Greece
1881-1928', unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Sheffield, 1976; and
Kharilaos Exertzoglou, 'Greek Banking in Constantinople 1850-1881 ',
unpublished PhD dissertation, King's College, University of London, 1986.
P. Nikiforos Diamandouros 23
11. On the 1974 Greek transition to democratic politics, see Harry J. Psomiades,
'Greece: From the Colonels' rule to democracy', in John H. Herz (ed.), From
Dictatorship to Democracy. Coping with the legacies of authoritarianism and
totalitarianism (Westport, 1982), pp. 251-73; Susannah Verney and Theodore
Cou1oumbis, 'State-international systems interaction and the Greek transition to
democracy in the mid 1970s', in Geoffrey Pridham (ed.), Encouraging Democ-
racy. The international context of regime transition in Southern Europe
(Leicester, 1991); and P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, 'Regime change and the
prospects for democracy in Greece: 1974-1983', in Guillermo O'Donnell,
Philippe C. Schmitter and Laurence Whitehead (eds), Transitions from
Authoritarian Rule. Prospects for democracy, (Baltimore, 1986), pp. 138-65.
12. On the construction and dynamics of the exclusivist state in post-civil-war
Greece, see, among others, Nicos P. Mouzelis, 'Capitalism and dictatorship in
post-war Greece', in idem, Modem Greece, pp. 115-33; and Nicos C. Alivizatos,
Les institutions politiques de la Grece a travers les crises 1922-1974 (Paris,
1979), pp. 95-206 and 351-478. For an initial discussion of the circumstances
under which these marginalised strata were incorporated in the post-1974 political
system, seeP. Nikiforos Diamandouros, 'PASOK and state-society relations in
post-authoritarian Greece (1974-1988)', in Speros Vryonis, Jr (ed.), Greece on
the Road to Democracy: From the junta to PASOK 1974-1986 (New Rochelle,
1991), pp. 15-35.
13. Authoritative analyses of foreign policy in the post-authoritarian period, which
cover perspectives reflecting the views of the two rival cultures, include Dimitri
C. Konstas, 'Greek foreign policy objectives, 1974-1986', in Hellenic Foundation
for Defense and Foreign Policy, Yearbook 1988 (Athens [1989]), pp. 93-128;
Van Coufoudakis, 'Greek foreign policy, 1945-1985: seeking independence in
an interdependent world- problems and prospects', in Kevin Featherstone and
Dimitrios K. Katsoudas (eds), Political Change in Greece Before and After the
Colonels (London, 1987), pp. 23~52; Theodore A. Couloumbis, 'The structures
of Greek foreign policy', in Richard Clogg (ed.), Greece in the 1980s, pp.
95-121; and Christos Rozakis, 'La politique ttrang~re gr~que 1974-1985:
Modernisation et r6le international d'un petit pays', in Les Temps Modemes 473
(December 1985), pp. 861-87.
14. The literature concerning PASOK and its impact on politics and society is quite
extensive. Systematic treatments of the subject include Christos Lyrintzis,
'Between socialism and populism: the rise of the Panhellenic Socialist
Movement', unpublished PhD dissertation, London School of Economics and
Political Science, 1983; Michalis Spourdalalds, The Rise of the Greek Socialist
Party (London, 1988); and Joannis Papadopoulos, Dynamique du discours
politique et conquete du pouvoir. Le cas du PASOK (Mouvement socialiste
panhillenique): 1974-1981 (Berne, 1989).
15. On the ways in which the constitutional revision of 1975 addresses central con-
cerns of the modernising culture, see Aristovou1os Manessis, 'L'evo1ution des
institutions politiques de Ia Grece: ~ Ia recherche d'une legitimiti difficile', in Les
Temps Modernes 473 (December 1985), pp. 772-814; Nicos C. Alivizatos, Les
institutions politiques de la Grece, pp. 549-52; and P. Nikiforos Diamandouros,
'Politics and constitutionalism in Greece: the 1975 constitution in historical
perspective', in Houchang E. Chehabi and Alfred Stepan (eds), Totalitarianism,
Authoritarianism, and Democracy: Essays in honor of Juan J. Linz (Boulder,
forthcoming). On the debate concerning the European Community and its
potential impact on Greek politics, economy and society, see Susannah Verney,
'To be or not to be within the European Community: the party debate and
24 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
democratic consolidation in Greece', in Geoffrey Pridham (ed.), Securing
Democracy: Political parties and democratic consolidation in southern Europe
(London, 1990), pp. 203-23. Verney's chapter is especially valuable for
understanding how the issue of the Community was confronted and internalised
by forces adhering to the two rival cultures.
16. Populism has been the subject of a number of analyses in recent years. To date,
however, systematic treatments of this phenomenon have focused almost
exclusively on PASOK. While this is natural, given the success with which this
particular party used this powerful ideological instrument of social and political
mobilisation, it has obscured the fact that, with significant variations in intensity
and breadth, populism cuts across the entire spectrum of political parties in
contemporary Greece. The most cogent analyses of the phenomenon are to be
found in the unpublished dissertation by Lyrintzis, 'Between Socialism and
Populism ... ; and the same author's 'The power of populism: the Greek case',
European Journal of Political Research, xv (1987), pp. 667-86. See, finally,
Michalis Spourdalakis, 'PASOK in the 1990s: structure, ideology, political
strategy', unpublished paper presented to the Workshop on European Socialist
Parties, Institut de Ciencies Politiques i Socials, Barcelona, 8-9 October 1990,
pp. 37-9 for a specific discussion of currents within PASOK which coincide with
the distinction between the two rival cultures developed in this chapter.
17. For articulate and sophisticated positions expressing the concerns of the
modernising culture in the various parties, see, for PASOK, Kostas Simitis,
Anaptyxi klli elcsychronismos tis Ellinikis koinonias (Athens, 1989); for Nea
Dimokratia, J. C. Loulis, 'New Democracy: the new face of conservatism', in
Howard R. Penniman (ed.), Greece at the Polls. The national elections of 1974
and 1977 (Washington, 1981), pp. 49-83; and, for the eurocommunist Left
(KKE-Esoterikou), Gia ena Elleniko dromo pros ti dimokratiki anagennesi klli to
sosialismo (Athens, 1976).
18. For a discussion of the sources reflecting the different ways in which the
prospect of accession to the Community was internalised and negotiated by the
two rival cultures, see Susannah Verney, 'To be or not to be within the European
Community .. .' and, more generally, n. 15 above.
19. Within the socialist movement, the views expressing the concerns of the
underdog culture with respect to the European Community were, in their more
extreme, militant but ultimately defensive form, articulated by the newspaper
Avriani. A more sophisticated presentation of similar concerns can be found in
the writings of, among others, Sotiris Kostopoulos, Mikhalis Kharalambidis,
both prominent members of PASOK, and, occasionally, in the party organ
20. During the period under discussion, the dynamics of the underdog culture's
relationship with politics were primarily made manifest through PASOK, then
the government, and, to a lesser extent, the KKE, which strongly supported the
first non-conservative party to come to power in Greece in 45 years. This
development led many observers erroneously to identify the underdog culture
with these two parties and, even more egregiously, misguidedly to link Nea
Dimokratia with the modernising culture. Such a perspective failed to appreciate
the extent to which the two cultures effectively cut across the political parties - a
reality which was to become abundantly clear once Nea Dimokratia came to
power in 1990.
21. For the way in which the major shared assumptions of the underdog culture
influenced the conduct of foreign policy during the first four years of PASOK's
rule, seen. 13 above and, more generally, the contributions in Speros Vryonis, Jr
P. Nikiforos Diamandouros 25
(ed.), Greece on the Road to Democracy, pp. 37-168 and Nikolaos A. Stavrou,
Greece under Socialism. A NATO ally adrift (New Rochelle, 1988), pp.
22. The struggle for the defence of entitlements was to acquire greater intensity with
the passage of time. It was especially evident among the privileged white-collar
trade unions in the wider public sector, especially in the various utilities and, to a
lesser extent, the banking sector. For Simitis's views concerning the problems
arising out of the defence or entitlements, or what the ·Greeks call the
syntekhniaki nootropia [guild-type mentality], see his Anaptyxi kai
elcsychronismos, pp. 71-88.
23. Typical of the climate affecting Greece's relations with the Community was the
so-called 'Yugoslav corn' scandal in which a state company and high-ranking
government officials were directly implicated in doctoring a ship's papers in
order falsely to make it appear that a shipment of Yugoslav com was ostensibly
Greek and, thus, to avoid paying a substantial sum to the Community in the form
of import duties. In the trial which ensued, the main line of defence adopted by
the former government minister involved in the scandal was to admit complicity
in falsifying official documents but to argue that what underlay the attempt to
deceive the EC authorities was not narrow private motive but 'the national
interest'. The same argument was espoused by thirteen former ministers who
served as witnesses for the defence. In this context, the chief witnesses for the
prosecution were reviled in the opposition press and radio as traitors to the
nation, while in a memorably extreme xenophobic utterance meant to justify the
deception, the defence reminded the court that 'when we [the Greeks] were
building Parthenons, they [the West- and by implication the Community] were
eating acorns'.
24. Particularly good sources concerning the evolving relations with the Community
under conditions of mounting economic difficulties which have led to the
adoption of an austerity programme and have multiplied calls for the need to
save, restructure, and reform are Panos Kasakos, 'Die integrationspolitischen
Initiativen der 80er Jahre und die griechiscbe Europa-Politik', SUdosteuropa
Mitteilungen, xxxi (1991), pp. 94-114; and idem, /. Ellada anamesa se
prosarmogi kai perithoriopoiisi. Dokimia evropaikis kai oikonomikis politikis
(Athens, 1991).
25. The central role played by organisations associated with the state and the wider-
public sector in promoting this climate of guild-type mentality should be
stressed. The most vociferous opposition to structural change in the past few
years has emanated from trade-union organisations (mostly well-funded, and
powerful) associated with the overstaffed state sector, which bas traditionally
been used as a mechanism for satisfying particularistic demands and for
containing unemployment For a short but incisive analysis which, in significant·
ways, parallels the argument developed in this chapter, see Panagis Vourloumis,
'Giati apotynkhanei i idiotikopoiisi, Epikentra, Ixvii (September 1991), pp.
26. The growing collaboration between the Greek Federation of Industries (SEB)
and the current reform leadership of the General Confederation of Greek
Workers (OSEE) resulted in the decision to sign a historic two-year collective
bargaining agreement in 1990. Despite its occasionally polemical dimensions,
by far the best work, to date, dealing with evolving trends in Greek interest
groups during the 1980s is George Th. Mavrogordatos, Metaxy Pityokampti kai
Prokrousti: oi epangelmatikes organoseis sti simerini Ellada (Athens, 1988).
2 PASOK in Power: From
'Change' to Disenchantment
Christos Lyrintzis

PASOK's eight-year period in power ended ingnominiously after the June

1989 election in a political climate marked by scandals and serious
allegations concerning the involvement ofPASOK's leadership in cases of
fraud, embezzlement and bribery. Even before the June 1989 election it
was clear that the PASOK government was desperately trying to survive
the effects of the recurrent scandals - foremost among these the so-called
'Koskotas affair' -and of Papandreou's health and marital problems. It
was a disreputable end to a remarkable march from its formation in 1974,
to its outstanding electoral successes in 1981 and 1985 and through its
eight years in office as the dominant force on the political scene. This
chapter attempts to assess PASOK's performance in power and to account
for its downfall by paying special attention to its strategy and tactics.
Moreover, an attempt is made to analyse and explain the reasons behind
PASOK's rise and fall and to evaluate the legacy of its eight-year term in
power. This is not, therefore, a presentation of what PASOK did, or failed
to do, while in office, but rather an analysis of the implications and effects
of PASOK's presence in office and of the factors which determined its
political behaviour. 1


PASOK's social and economic policies were designed to advantage the

middle and lower strata of society, which constituted a significant
component of the party's electoral base. This was achieved by introducing
substantial increases in wages and salaries and by the indexing of salaries
and pensions. Though these measures were taken during PASOK's first
year in office and the government was later obliged to revert to an
austerity programme, they created the image of a government responsive
to popular demands and willing to fulfill its pre-electoral pledges. This
policy, however, was not followed by an overall increase in domestic
production, nor by new productive investments. Industrial growth de-

Christos Lyrintzis 27

clined, while unemployment and inflation increased.3 To cope with the

deteriorating economic situation PASOK had to turn to foreign loans,
while public sector borrowing increased dramatically. Yet this money was
not channelled into productive investments. Instead, it was used to finance
PASOK's social policies and, above all, the expansion of the already over-
inflated public sector. PASOK embarked on a systematic expansion of the
public sector by appointing people loyal to the party en masse to specially-
created posts and by multiplying state-controlled agencies. It was a well-
designed strategy aimed at opening the political system to the middle and
lower strata - which traditionally had been excluded from the benefits of
power - and at the same time at consolidating the party's electoral
This strategy paid off in electoral terms, but at the cost of an un-
precedented increase in the public sector debt and, more importantly, at
the cost of bolstering the chaotic, irrational and clientelistic nature of the
Greek state. It is important to note that, as a result of PASOK's socio-
economic policies, public spending increased during the 1982-88 period
by 40 per cent (compared to 28 per cent during the 1975-1981 period of
the Nea Dimokratia government) and public debt increased during the
same period by 433 per cent (compared to 106 per cent during the 1975-
81 period), or from 12.5 per cent of GDP in 1983 to more than 20 per cent
ofGDP in 1989.4
This strategy did nothing to restructure the economy, which continued
to be characterised by profiteering, parasitic jobs, tax-evasion and the
proliferation of small family businesses. Moreover, PASOK's economic
policy did nothing to control the anarchic development and multiple job
holding that characterise the petite bourgeoisie, nor to control and tax the
self-employed element of this class, whose persistence, is, in itself, a
remarkable phenomenon.'
It may be useful to illustrate PASOK's socioeconomic strategy with a
few more examples. The government's social reforms in the areas of
health, education and social security, though extremely popular with the
middle and lower strata, were based on borrowed money and were used as
a means for the creation of new state-controlled agencies. The end-result
of PASOK's policies in these areas was the perpetuation of the in-
efficiency and confusion of social services and the increasing in-
debtedness of the major social security organisations. Similar tactics were
adopted in the case of the so-called 'problematic companies', about forty
important but unprofitable and debt-ridden companies. These ailing firms
came under state control, new people were appointed to manage them, and
28 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
despite heavy public spending, their debts increased and they now face
either privatisation or liquidation. Another example of the above strategy
can be found in the creation of state-controlled agencies and agricultural
cooperatives for the promotion and exportation of agricultural products.
Many of these agencies were involved in serious economic scandals,
among which was the notorious 'com scandal' which resulted in the
prosecution and imprisonment of a PASOK minister. 6
To summarise, it can be argued that the essence of PASOK's per-
formance in power can be described as an unprecedented attempt to
exploit its term in office in order to consolidate and enhance its position
in power and secure the reproduction of its electoral base. This was
realised at the expense of public revenues, which were used to create and
sustain the image of a party sensitive to popular demands, struggling to
deliver the promised 'better days'. PASOK tried to solve unemployment
by appointments to the public sector; confronted economic decline by
supporting moribund or ailing businesses and dubious entrepreneurs; and
implemented welfare policies by increasing the public debt. 7 The PASOK
government's socioeconomic policies were based on borrowed money
which was used to finance consumption rather than production and to
support state-subsidised businessmen and entrepreneurs. 8 PASOK
allocated resources through the machinery of the state and state-
controlled agencies to stillborn or moribund businesses because it
expected to maintain and enlarge its electoral clientele and because of its
unwillingness to make a clear choice about the intended beneficiaries of
its policies. The end-result of this strategy was the covert propagation of
a speculative economy in which each social group pursued its own
corporate interests and the state was seen as an area of profiteering and
tenured employment. PASOK's effort to 'socialise' the economic crisis
was partly successful, but it led to the loss, not only of 'the third road to
socialism' but also of an historic chance to modernise and rationalise the
economy and state structures.
It can be said, therefore, that this strategy was PASOK's greatest
scandal, far more important than that connected with Koskotas. Having
said that, three obvious questions arise: a) How was it possible to conceive
and implement such a strategy? In other words, how can we explain and
understand this strategy and the manner in which it was realised? b) Why
did PASOK adopt such a strategy and what are the reasons that allowed, if
not compelled, PASOK to follow such policies? c) What are the
implications and effects of PASOK's performance in power? In order to
answer these questions we have to start by examining PASOK's meteoric
Christos Lyrintzis 29
rise and its nature as a political force, issues directly related to PASOK's
populist nature.


PASOK's spectacular rise to power and its performance in office can be

fully explained only if we consider and understand the internal logic and
rationale of the party's strategy and tactics. As this subject has been
analysed elsewhere, we will only refer briefly to the major characteristics
of PASOK's outstanding success.9 During the period between 1974 and
1981 PASOK managed to establish itself as an entirely new party with a
new political identity and novel ideas. It did this by exploiting, and at the
same time transcending, the old divisions of Greek politics, namely those
between conservatives and liberals, communists and anti-communists, and
by advancing a new cleavage between the right-wing and the anti-right
wing forces. This cleavage appeared in the mid-sixties but it was PASOK
that established this division as the dominant one in politics in an attempt
to unite under its banner voters from both the old centre and the com-
munist left. The party emerged as the champion of the anti-right-wing
forces and represented society as being split by the fundamental division
between an all-embracing 'non-privileged' majority, which it claimed to
stand for, and a tiny 'privileged' oligarchy, representing foreign interests
and domestic monopolies, which was identified as the enemy. The main
goal of the party, therefore, was the overthrow of the right and the socialist
transformation of society, which was to be realised via PASOK's 'third
road to socialism'. The transition to socialism was based on a radical
programme that provided for the socialisation of the means of production,
the introduction of workers' participation, decentralisation and self-
management, the introduction of social reforms and welfare policies, the
improvement of the living standards of the 'working people', and the
achievement of national liberation by following a non-aligned foreign
policy, withdrawing Greece from NATO, ousting the US military bases
and renegotiating the country's relationship with the EC.
During the 1974-81 period PASOK made several changes in its
programme and repeatedly readjusted the party's policies. Thus, as the
1981 election approached, the emphasis had shifted from the socialist
transformation of society to the need for comprehensive change or
'Allagi'. ('Change', in fact, became the major slogan during the 1981
electoral campaign.) PASOK was successful in propagating these ideas by
30 Greece, 1981~9: The Populist Decade
capitalising on the personality and charisma of the party's founder and
president, Andreas Papandreou, who was its driving force. The party
managed to develop a well-organised and highly active mass-base and to
introduce new political personnel into politics. Yet party structures,
despite their contribution to PASOK's rise to power, always remained
passive, dominated by the undisputed leadership of Andreas Papandreou.
The persistence of Papandreou's dominance until the present, despite
serious health problems, and his continuing appeal to the masses illustrate
his role within PASOK. (It is characteristic that during its first sixteen
years, PASOK held only two national congresses; the first in 1984, the
second in September 1990.)
After a period of internal conflict and organisational turmoil PASOK
opted for a populist strategy which was translated into a remarkably 'short
march' to power. 10 By allowing its president full freedom of action and by
making him solely responsible for the party's strategy, PASOK was able
to adapt its tactics and to capitalise on the charisma of its leader. Above
all, PASOK was able to articulate a populist ideological discourse, which
was skilfully presented by Papandreou and which managed to attract all
social strata dissatisfied with the long-term dominance of the right. In
other words PASOK adopted and implemented a 'populist mode of
political incorporation', whose main goal was the incorporation into the
political system of social strata excluded from it by previous right-wing
govemments. 11
The populist mode of political mobilisation and participation was
based on a discourse that oversimplified the social and political space by
creating one major cleavage, that between the people and its enemies. It
is not a specific set of ideas or policies that characterise populism, but
rather an internal logic, a manner of perceiving and presenting social
reality. Society is perceived as divided into two camps, one of which is
identified as the cause of all social and economic problems. This
oversimplified and manichean logic exploits the popular elements that
appeal to individuals by stressing the fact that they belong to the people
or the non-privileged. Thus, it suppresses all class or other divisions that
exist in society in order to create one major cleavage, that between the
people and the privileged or between the people and the power elite.
Consequently, it mobilises not a. specific class or class alliance, but the
people or the masses in general, and it is this capacity of populism to
conceal all social differences that accounts for its ability rapidly to
mobilise large and heterogeneous sections of society. In this sense,
populism opposes the logic of difference which recognises and presents
Christos Lyrintzis 31
every separate social identity, thus accepting the diversity and complexity
of the social space. It is evident that by adopting a populist ideological
discourse a political agent is able to mobilise large sections of society
and organise them into a mass movement seeking to liberate society from
its enemies, however they may be defined.
PASOK fully adopted the populist discourse in order to construct its
political identity. It was a negative identity, in the sense that the party
represented opposition to the privileged and the right-wing forces, and it
was only by referring to these forces that one could conceive PASOK's
presence and identity. PASOK appealed to the masses as the people or the
non-privileged, and that was an identity easily accepted by all Greeks.
Thus, PASOK disregarded all social divisions that characterised the social
forces constituting its social base and addressed them as a mass of people
united and struggling against a common enemy; that is, the right. PASOK
found a superb articulator of this discourse in the charismatic personality
of Andreas Papandreou, who was able to express the aspirations of the
party's social base and to maintain the allegiance of the party's members.
The expansion of PASOK' s electoral base and its final rise to power took
place through a vague programme for change, which promised to satisfy
all the contradictory interests of the various social groups that supported
the party. The ambiguity and oversimplified nature of PASOK's populist
discourse allowed the party to mask the contradictory interests of its social
base and to convince the electorate that change was necessary. PASOK's
populism was epitomised in the party's pre-electoral slogan: 'PASOK in
government: the People in power'.
PASOK, therefore, developed a populist mode of political incorporation
which succeeded in mobilising the masses in a vague project for change.
PASOK's failure to institutionalise democratic processes within its
organisation and the passivity of the mass-base vis-a-vis the leader's
initiatives are characteristics inherent in the populist mode of political
participation. The plebiscitarian character and the paternalistic nature of
PASOK's internal functioning stem from the fact that by reducing all
differences to one major cleavage and by oversimplifying the social and
political space, populist logic does not allow the autonomous expression
of different views. Instead, it requires obedience to the leader who
represents and incarnates the unity of the populist movement. It can be
argued, therefore, that PASOK transcended the complex divisions of
society by restoring an apparent unity at the political level, which was
founded on PASOK's mobilisation of the anti-right-wing forces.
Populism, therefore, served as a bridge between society and politics. Of
32 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
course, it is debatable whether this was the best or simply the only avail-
able way of making a political impact in post-junta Greece.
Once in power, PASOK was a captive of its populist logic; the latter
dictates the satisfaction of the corporate interests of all those who may be
identified as potential supporters of the movement. Having promised
almost everything, PASOK was expected to fulfill, if not all, at least most
of its pre-electoral pledges. Of course, few expected the socialist
transformation of society. The PASOK government tried to cope with the
high expectations of its electoral base by channelling borrowed money
through state mechanisms to party devotees. 12 The economic policies of
PASOK, outlined earlier, transformed the state into a common cash-
register from which every social group could claim its share. The govern-
ment's behaviour reinforced the populist logic which transformed all kinds
of demands into legitimate rights of the 'people', and according to which
'anything is fair game'. The final result was that all corporate interests
were represented as the people's interests that had to be satisfied at the
expense of the establishment, the privileged or the state. In practice they
were satisfied at the expense of the state. The available data show that
PASOK did nothing to restrict private capital and/or to transfer incomes
from the upper strata to the lower. Instead, corporate contributions to
income tax fell from 29 per cent in 1980 to 26 per cent in 1987, whereas
the contribution of salary-earners and pensioners increased considerably .13
Thus the beneficiaries of PASOK's policies had to pay the cost of their
rising standards of living. The main beneficiaries, however, were the strata
that the taxman failed to reach, as well as the groups involved in the
underground economy, in profiteering and in parasitic jobs.
The populist strategy adopted by PASOK inevitably led to renewed and
expanding clientelistic practices. There can be little doubt that PASOK
used its party organisation for the allocation of favours and spoils.
PASOK's innovation, however, consisted in the systematic infiltration of
the state machinary by party devotees, who did not function individually
but as members of a well-structured party organisation. What has been
described as 'bureaucratic clientelism' is another aspect and implication of
the above-mentioned socioeconomic policies of the PASOK government.
It is characterised by the combination and interdependence of party and
state mechanisms aimed at the organised expansion of existing posts and
departments in the public sector and the addition of new ones in an
attempt to secure the party's power position and to maintain its electoral
base. 14 In a country where the state has always played a crucial social and
economic role, it was relatively easy for a well organised party to become
Christos Lyrintzis 33
a collective patron by using an intricate combination of party mechanisms
and state structures. 15 Needless to say, the overlapping of party and state
structure is at the expense of the efficiency, modernisation and ra-
tionalisation of the public sector. The proliferation of parasitic jobs and the
creation of numerous state-controlled agencies exemplify the logic of
organised and bureaucratic patronage. The latter is directly related, and at
the same time complementary to, the populist mode of participation which
enhances the interests of party supporters by presenting them as antag-
onistic to any personal or collective interests which are not allied to the
It is clear that the above analysis, although it provides a relatively
satisfactory answer to the question of the nature of populism and how it
operates, does not explain the social or other preconditions for the de-
velopment of a populist mode of political incorporation. In other words,
we have to explain why populism emerges in a specific historical moment,
and why a large section of society accepts and adopts the populist
discourse. These issues relate to the second question we posed earlier -
namely, why PASOK adopted this strategy and what reasons impelled the
party to follow - with success - the populist mode of mobilisation.


A satisfactory explanation of the social bases of Greek populism and of

the manner in which PASOK incorporated into its populist discourse
elements deeply rooted in postwar society is a huge task which cannot be
dealt with in this chapter. Moreover, the available data on both the social
stratification of the electorate and on the social base of PASOK are
relatively poor and do not allow definite conclusions. This situation may
also explain why the available studies ofPASOK and of Greek 'socialism'
contain only scattered remarks on this subject. 16 Consequently, we also
have to limit our analysis to tentative observations on the social context
that bred Greek populism.
The major problem confronting PASOK was the mobilisation of an
extremely heterogeneous social base. The much-discussed petty-bourgeois
character of Greek society is in itself of little help in understanding the
problem, yet it provides the key to an analysis of PASOK's populist
strategy. The middle class includes the salaried strata in both the public
and in the private sector, liberal professionals, shopkeepers and the self-
employed in small and medium-size family businesses. These different
34 Greece, 1981~9: The Populist Decade
groups are characterised by frequently contradictory interests and it is very
difficult to lump them together under the same banner. Moreover, middle-
class actors cannot usually be classified in terms of class-identity because
of their multiple job-holding and their involvement in the black economy.
H~nce the opaqueness that characterises the Greek petite bourgeoisie and
its defiance of any rational classification. The term 'multi-valence' has
been aptly used to describe this situation. 17
The obscurity and contradictory interests that characterise the middle
strata as well as the lack of a systematic study of the size and behaviour of
each group and of the structure of this social space do not alter the fact
that these strata, together with the farmers, constitute the backbone of
society and that any significant political movement has to win their
support. PASOK managed to attract large sections of these social strata
and to mobilise them by advancing a populist discourse which addressed
them as the 'anti-right' forces and convinced them that the 'right' was the
arch-enemy. It seems that these middle strata, dissatisfied with the
performance of the right-wing governments of the 1960s and 1970s, were
ready to switch their political allegiance to a new political force seeking
change. There are no data, however, indicating that PASOK's rise to
power was primarily based on middle-class support. On the contrary, it
can be said that PASOK's electoral support in 1981 was equally spread
among all social groups and thus the party has accurately been described
as a 'fairly representative cross-section of Greek society as a whole' . 18
PASOK's populism served as the unifying factor for the contradictory and
inter-class interests and economic claims of different social groups which
were mobilised against the 'oligarchy' and the so-called 'privileged'. The
well-known social insecurity and sense of defencelessness of the middle
strata were aptly exploited by PASOK, whose populist discourse mediated
the different and incompatible social interests and transformed them into
popular interests by uniting them into a vague demand for change. What
has been described as a 'defensive' society and political culture became
fertile ground for the reception of the populist discourse. 19
Students of populism have noted the fact that the phenomenon develops
in periods of rapid social and cultural change. 20 The threats - real or
imaginary - posed by capitalism, modernisation and the rationalisation of
socioeconomic relations tend to mobilise the groups that feel most
vulnerable in the face of social change. In some cases the forthcoming
changes threaten the very existence of specific occupational categories. The
reaction of such groups is expressed by their appeal to the state or to any
other organised movement that appears as the protector of their corporate
Christos Lyrintzis 35

interests. 21 What has been analysed as 'state corporatism' exemplifies this

approach to organised interests in Greece. 22 The parties' control over
organised interests is channelled through the state, when the party is in
power, and is expressed through well-planned efforts to control their
organisations, to silence dissent, to support the demands of those interests
associated with the party in government and to impose compromise in
cases of conflicting interests. In situations such as this, the threat of social
change impels a variety of social groups to identify themselves as members
of a wider collectivity, as for instance, the nation, the people, or the non-
privileged. It is reasonable, therefore, that they will support a political party
or movement that offers a new identity and a sense of belonging that
counterbalances the threat of socioeconomic change.
As already noted, during the 1970s PASOK managed to attract a social
alliance that in 1981 brought the party to power. From 1985 onwards,
however, there were signs of dissatisfaction and change within PASOK's
electoral base. This change was expressed in the alienation of the 'upper-
middle' and 'upper' social groups that gradually shifted their political
allegiance to the Nea Dimokratia party. PASOK's diminishing appeal to
these social strata reached a peak during the 1988-89 period. It was a
period marked by socioeconomic scandals and a general moral crisis that
undermined PASOK's electoral base and eventually led to its fall.
PASOK's performance in office, together with allegations of corruption
and favouritism, caused the alienation of the upper and upper-middle
social strata which was manifested in PASOK's remarkable electoral
losses in the big urban centres and especially in the well-off and upper-
class areas of the greater Athens area. In these neighbourhoods PASOK's
share decreased to 20 per cent of the vote. In other words, its losses were
about 40 per cent of its strength in 1981.23 By contrast, the available data
indicate that PASOK's losses in the lower and middle strata were minimal.
In fact, PASOK's appeal to the lower classes increased during the 1988-
89 period and by the June 1989 election was consolidated around the level
of 40 per cent of the vote. It is characteristic that between June and
November 1989, PASOK's appeal to the lower strata increased from
40 per cent to 45 per cent of the vote and this rise is easily explained by
the respective losses of the left. 24
The changing structure of PASOK's social base reflects the effects of
the party's performance in office. The policies of the PASOK government
were perceived by the majority of the middle- and lower-class groups as
beneficial to their interests and as a strategy aimed at the protection of
their standards of living. In fact, the political practice of PASOK aimed at
36 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
the protection and reproduction of the occupational categories that had a
vested interest in the expansion and the perpetuation of the irrational and
parasitic nature of the public sector. PASOK became the protector of all
corporate interests and, above all, the champion of the state as a mech-
anism for the protection of specific interests and the allocation of favours
and spoils to politically loyal groups. The state can be accurately described
as a state-donor and/or state-allocator and this was by no means a new
phenomenon in Greek politics; its role, however, was never so prominent
nor so important as it was during the PASOK period. 25 Within this context,
it can be said that PASOK's policies paid off in terms of electoral gains;
they were only a relative success, however, because, they did not prevent
the final loss of power in April1990. 26


The above analysis of PASOK's strategy and political practice creates a

very bleak and negative picture of the party's record in power. One might
conclude that PASOK's performance was a total failure and that the
party's only contribution to politics was nothing but patronage, scandals,
profiteering and the bankruptcy of the economy. Such a conclusion,
however, would be an oversimplified, and to some extent a misleading
view ofPASOK's record in power.
The rise and fall of PASOK was in itself a very important event in
Greek politics. The electoral success of PASOK in 1981 showed that the
newly re-established democracy could successfully survive alternations in
power. PASOK's defeat in April 1990 and the formation of a Nea
Dimokratia government provided further corroboration as to the stability
of the political system.27 1bis alternation in government was accompanied
by a significant reallocation of power which was expressed through the
empowerment of social groups which had never enjoyed any significant
political weight. This was manifested in the renewal of political personnel
achieved by PASOK and the introduction of a new generation of
politicians on to the political scene.28 From this perspective the populist
mode of political participation adopted by PASOKhad a positive side, to
the extent that it incorporated into the political system social strata that
were politically marginal during the postwar period. There is, of course, a
negative side to the same process, namely that PASOK incorporated these
groups into politics by maintaining their dependence on the state and by
exacerbating the inadequacies, inefficiences and irrationalities of both the
Christos Lyrintzis 37

political system and the state apparatus. PASOK's populism led the
newcomers to believe that their political empowerment entitled them to
social and economic benefits.
Another positive aspect of PASOK's eight-year stay in power was the
weakening of traditional cleavages in politics - that is, between
communists and anti-communists, left and right. It was a process that had
already been started by Karamanlis in 1974 and was further reinforced by
PASOK's legislation regarding the official recognition of wartime
resistance organisations (particularly those of the left) and the repatriation
of the refugees who had fled the country in the aftermath of the civil war.
This process culminated in 1989 with the formation of a coalition
government between Nea Dimokratia and the Alliance of the Left and
Progress. This coalition signified a definite end to the old antagonism
between the traditional left and the traditional right. Furthermore,
PASOK's political practice in office and the appropriation by the party of
several ideological themes and policies of the traditional left and their
incorporation into PASOK's populist discourse undermined the meaning
of the traditional epithets 'left' and 'right'. To the extent that PASOK
identified itself as a new left-wing force and presented itself as the
champion of the anti-right forces, the content of these labels underwent
significant change.
It may be true that PASOK is perceived by the electorate as a new centre
in politics. :rhe point is, however, that the terms of party competition have
significantly changed and that the meaning of the old labels has also
changed. The cleavage between left and right still constitutes the most
important division in politics, but it is no longer the same as in the past.
PASOK's political practice, in combination with international develop-
ments, discredited several traditional ideas and policies of the left, such as
the socialisation of the means of production, the role of the state as planner
and investor, and the efficiency of the public sector. As a result, the left
found itself in deep political crisis, which was, and still is, an identity crisis.
The word 'left' became, and remains, a term in search of definition, a
signifier in search of significance, and one can hardly deny PASOK's
contribution to this process. On the other hand, the fact that PASOK had
openly or latently discredited the image of the left, facilitated the
reorganisation and renewal of the right. Nea Dimokratia introduced several
neo-liberal ideas into its political discourse and emerged as the only force
apparently capable of achieving the rationalisation, modernisation and
honest management of society and the economy. Ideas that were unthink-
able at the beginning of the 1980s, such as privatisation, became fashion-
38 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
able and appealing. Of course, it is by no means certain that nco-liberalism
can solve the country's problems. On the contrary, instead of modernisa-
tion, it may lead to a retrogression towards old practices and problems.
One is left, therefore, with the task of assessing PASOK's performance
in power in terms of success and failure. This is the wrong way, however,
of putting the problem, because the answer depends on the criteria one uses
to define success and failure. If, for instance, one adopts as a criterion the
extent to which PASOK fulfilled its pre-electoral promises, the conclusion
is that PASOK was a rather successful party in government According to a
recent study, PASOK realised a large percentage of its pre-electoral
pledges (73.8 per cent). 29 Of course, it must be noted that most of
PASOK's much-discussed policies, such as withdrawal from the EC and
NATO, the socialisation of the means of production and the removal of the
US military bases, were never implemented. Moreover, it has to be noted
that this approach does not consider the manner in which PASOK carried
out its promises. It must be stressed that in many cases PASOK apparently
delivered the promised policies but the manner in which the ~licy was
implemented led to the virtual annulment of its intended effects.
From a different perspective, one may choose as a main criterion the
government's performance in specific areas. One of the most important
areas is the economy where, judging on the basis of the macroeconomic
figures, the conclusion must be that PASOK's record was an outstanding
failure. Yet, at this point one is confronted with the following paradoxical
situation: whereas the public sector is almost bankrupt and the economy
stagnant, large sections of society, including sections of the middle and
lower strata, enjoyed an unprecedented prosperity, which was reflected in
the rise of private savings and the massive consumption of imported
goods. Of course, this prosperity was based on borrowed money, since it
was PASOK's strategy to allocate funds through social services and state
controlled agencies to the middle and lower social groups. The observer of
Greek society is often struck by the absence of pockets of poverty which
are so blatant even in the most advanced industrial societies. By contrast,
the allocation of state funds in combination with the proliferation of
economic activities that constitute the 'black' economy secured satis-
factory living standards for large sections of the population. In this sense,
PASOK kept its promise and delivered the 'better days' promised in 1985.
Of course, the fact that this prosperity was based on borrowed money is
something that most Greeks tend to ignore.
It can be argued therefore that any attempt to evaluate PASOK's eight-
year period in power in terms of success or failure depends on the very
Christos Lyrintzis 39
criteria of success or failure; in any event it leads to contradictory and
often misleading conclusions. Consequently, it is more useful to assess
PASOK's presence in politics on the basis of its overall performance and
of the traces it left on the political system. From this point of view, the
major consequence of PASOK's rise and fall was the restructuring of the
party system. PASOK established itself as a major force in politics, a force
which, even under the most unfavourable conditions, received 40 per cent
of the vote. This performance, in combination with the organisational
development of the party, indicates that PASOK is not a transient force in
politics, and there is a strong possibility that the party will survive the
departure of its founder. Thus, PASOK's rise confirmed and reinforced
the tripartite configuration of party politics. Even more important, how-
ever, are the implications of PASOK's period in power for society and
culture. It is to this area that we will now turn our attention.


The long-term effects of the party's economic and social policies are not
fully understood at present. It is true, of course, that the public sector is on
the brink of bankruptcy, that inflation is rising, and that industrial output is
stagnant. It must be stressed, however, that the previously-described
socioeconomic policies of the PASOK government were also those
adopted by the Nea Dimokratia governments of the seventies. The
difference is that PASOK followed populist logic to its extreme and thus
intensified and exacerbated the effects of a state-controlled economic
policy which obeyed political rather than economic criteria. The new
element during PASOK's eight-year period in power was the open and
often provocative manner in which the government followed the above
socioeconomic policies and the consequent effects of these policies on the
cultural field and particularly on attitudes vis-a-vis the state, the economy
and the political scene. It could be said that a major difference between
PASOK and its predecessors concerned the style of the government;s
political practice. The latter reinforced and exacerbated already existing
values and led to a further deterioration in the moribund state-civil society
While the state is almost bankrupt, the public sector is still viewed as a
major employer. Given that the so-called problematic companies cannot
survive without structural changes, employees expect the state to cover
the cost of keeping them alive. Society was educated by the populist
40 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
discourse according to which all corporate interests were transformed into
legitimate rights of the people. To the extent that populism presents the
social and political space as one space divided into two camps, it fa-
cilitates the identification of every social group with the people and
legitimises the presentation of corporate demands as popular demands
which must be satisfied. Thus society is perverted by the populist logic
which allows everything, supports everything and legitimises even the
most absurd claims. The final outcome is the creation of a society
characterised by social indifference, paternalism, profiteering and cor-
ruption. Hence the predominance of such stereotypical ideas as:
the existing rights of the working people must be protected by the state;
the working people bear no responsibility for the economic crisis; and the
already-existing corporate rights of every social group must be secured. 31
The long-term implication of the above strategy adopted by PASOK is
disenchantment with the role of the state and with the possibility of a
socialist transformation of society. PASOK's populist discourse dis-
credited the role of the state and rendered the state's social and economic
policies tantamount to a waste of public money. Equality, social liberation
and social justice became terms without meaning, empty words that were
used as a front for the allocation of favours and resources to party
members. The social democratic option of efficiency, modernisation,
employment and equality was transformed by PASOK into patronage and
aimless change. Thus, Greek society, enchanted by PASOK's promises of
social change, equality, social justice and better days for all citizens,
gradually realised that what was in fact taking place was the promotion of
the interests of those groups associated in one way or another with
PASOK's rise to, and presence in, power.
The combined effects of populism and patronage gradually led to a
more general disenchantment with politics. PASOK's political practices
enhanced the existing view of politics as a 'dirty business' and that
politicians seek only the promotion of their personal or group interests.
Politics became associated with embezzlement and theft, and the public
sector lost all credibility. Disenchantment and frustration led to apathy and
above all to the legitimation of illegal or semi-legal practices, profiteering
and moonlighting. This general disenchantment with politics is linked to
the diminishing appeal of much-discussed concepts such as socialism and
the left. PASOK's use and abuse of these concepts led to disenchantment
with the socialist transformation of society and turned the few remaining
romantics and visionaries into pragmatists and cynics. At the same time
the performance of the so-called traditional left, that is the Coalition of the
Christos Lyrintzis 41
Left and Progress, did nothing to present the left as an alternative to
PASOK's populism. The left's image and discourse remained old-
fashioned and unconvincing and the formation of a coalition government
with Nea Dimokratia in June 1989, followed by the formation of an all-
party government in November of the same year, undermined the left's
credibility and increased disenchantment with socialism and left-wing
politics in general.
On the other hand, the left had traditionally linked the prospects for real
social and economic change with the introduction of proportional
representation and the formation of coalition governments. The failure of
proportional representation to provide a viable coalition government, and
thus to reinforce consensus, led to disenchantment with two old myths of
the left: first that proportional representation would lead to left-wing and
progressive governments, something that obviously did not materialise;
second, the myth of coalition government which was presented as
necessarily resulting in more efficient, responsive and honest admin-
istration. The course of politics during 1989 proved that Greece was far
from the consociational model and that the invocation of the necessity of
consensus politics was nothing but rhetoric that soon faded away.
It could be argued that PASOK's populism and patronage destroyed a
number of old myths in Greek politics and at the same time wasted a
significant opportunity for the restructuring of social and political life.
Specifically, apart from the politics of disenchantment with socialism, the
left and change, PASOK' s populist strategy led to the loss not only of the
'third road to socialism' but even more of an historic chance to introduce
consensus politics and to go beyond the traditional divisions between left
and right. It must be noted, however, that PASOK did not deliberately
practice the 'politics of disenchantment'. Disenchantment was the effect of
PASOK's strategy and performance in power. Moreover, it may be the
case that a large section of PASOK's members and voters do not feel
disenchanted with politics, socialism and political change. Even if this is
true, one cannot disregard the fact that considerable sections of society
were frustrated by PASOK's policies and began to question the party;s
ability to introduce political and social change. This attitude was
expressed by Kostas Simitis, a prominent PASOK member and Minister
of National Economy between 1985 and 1987, during PASOK's second
national congress held in September 1990. According to Simitis:

Our political practice followed the same track as that of the right-wing
governments; many times we implemented ad hoc policies; we maintain-
42 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
ed clientelistic relations between government and voters; we made
selective allocations of funds and we introduced measures benefiting
specific groups. The principle governing our political practice was that
the party and the government were always right and that their actions
had to be justified;... we do not need attractive slogans that create rising
expectations but systematic programming and well planned action?2
These remarks confirm the argument advanced earlier about PASOK's
populist strategy and express disenchantment with PASOK's attempt to
realise the much-discussed 'change'.
Furthermore, it seems that PASOK's populist strategy affected the other
parties in the political spectrum. There are clear indications that Nea
Dimokratia succumbed to PASOK's populist strategy and began to imitate
it. During the 1989 and 1990 electoral campaigns Nea Dimokratia avoided
stating clearly the policies that it would follow once in office, and refused
to specify their cost. Its pre-electoral programme was vague and failed to
describe the exact measures that were to be taken in economic and social
policy. It is very unlikely, however, that Nea Dimokratia will follow the
same populist strategy as its predecessor. The party's close links with the
bourgeoisie and the demand from bourgeois interests for industrialisation,
modernisation and rationalisation will prevent the Nea Dimokratia
government from adopting an electorally rewarding populist strategy.
Nevertheless, there is little reason to believe that a Nea Dimokratia
government will succeed in coping with the problems that PASOK failed to
solve and which PASOK's populism made even more difficult to resolve.

To summarise, it can be said that PASOK exploited petit-bourgeois

insecurity and fear of social change in order to construct a social alliance
mobilised by a populist discourse. Furthermore, PASOK exploited the
antagonisms and contradictory class-locations that characterise Greek
society and exacerbated them by becoming the people's champion and by
encouraging the petit-bourgeois desire for affluence and higher social
status. PASOK's period in office empowered several social groups which
had been excluded from the management of the public sector and from the
benefits of power. This reallocation of power, however, was achieved in a
manner guaranteeing the reproduction of the irrational nature of the state-
allocator, which borrows money in order to sustain the income of often-
unproductive occupational categories. This populist strategy led to a
proliferation of activities cutting across the boundaries of private and
Christos Lyrintzis 43
public, commercial and rentier, urban and rural, legal and illegal, state-
sponsored and private investments.
Within this context, PASOK's political practice, dominated by the
party's populist logic, led to disenchantment with political and social
change and with the role of the state, the left and organised collective
action. Furthermore, it frustrated all hopes for the much-needed ration-
alisation and modernisation of the public sector and the restructuring of
the economy. Finally, it beguiled large sections of society with the
prospect of easy profits and tenured employment and reinforced the
paternalistic outlook of the political leadership which appeared as the
protector of all individual or corporate interests. The end-result was the
fragmentation of civil society into numerous groups struggling to maintain
their real or imaginary privileges.
In a society where class locations have always been indeterminate and
contradictory, PASOK encouraged para-economic activities and the
proliferation of untaxable revenues. It sustained the growth of multiple
job-holding and encouraged the division of society into groups with
overlapping yet incompatible interests. On the other hand, the weakness of
the bourgeoisie, which had always been a state-sponsored force, facilitated
PASOK's appeal to the petite bourgeoisie and enabled PASOK to advance
the interests of new entrepreneurial and managerial strata. It can be
argued, therefore, that PASOK's populism thrived on the opacity and
indeterminacy of the Greek social space which suppresses social
differences and breeds the peculiar phenomenon of the Greek petit-
bourgeois. This is a petit-bourgeois who may be the owner of small or
middle-sized property, who can easily be an employee in the public sector
and at the same time be self-employed or even an employer in a small
business, who feels oppressed and insecure, distrusts the state and evades
taxation, yet demands state protection, a person who can be radicalised
but is not radical and who can occasionally be progressive but in fact is
deeply conservative, familiar with everything and expert at nothing.


l. On PASOK's performance in power, see C. Lyrintzis, 'PASOK in power: the

loss of the third road to socialism', in T. Gallagher and A. Williams (eds),
Southern European Socialism (Manchester, 1989) pp. 34-54; also J. Petras,
'PASOK in power', New Left Review, clxiii (1987), pp. 3-25.
44 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
2. The term 'strategy' indicates the long-term goals of the party or of the PASOK
government. One should avoid, however, the voluntaristic implications of the
term and bear in mind that it refers to the course adopted by a political agent
under given structural constraints. By contrast, the terms 'political practice'
and/or 'political initiative' refer to the manner and the means used to implement
a strategy.
3. On Greece's industrialisation and economic development in the 1980s, see T.
Giannitsis, 'EIIada: i ekviomichanisi se krisi', in K. Vergopoulos and A.
Manessis (eds),/ Ellada se exelixi (Athens, 1986). On industrialisation, see also
D. Sakkas, '0 prooptikes tis ellinikis viomikhanias to etos 2000', in T. Giannitsis
and P. Kazakos (eds),/ Ellada pros to 2000 (Athens, 1988).
4. S. Alexandropoulos, Syllogiki drasi kai antiprosopefsi symferonton prin kai meta
tin antipolitefsi, PhD dissertation, Panteios University, Athens, 1990, pp.
200-20. See also Oikonomikos Takhydromos, 29 March 1990.
5. The term petite bourgeoisie refers to both the old middle class (artisans and
shopkeepers) and to the so-called new middle class (employees and civil
servants); thus it includes both the salaried and the self-employed strata of
society. On the persistence of the self-employed element of the Greek petite
bourgeoisie, see K. Tsoukalas, Kratos, koinonia, ergasia (Athens, 1986), pp.
6. The coalition government formed between Nea Dimokratia and the Alliance of
the Left and Progress in July 1989 decided to seek the impeachment of a number
of former PASOK ministers and also the ex-prime minister, Andreas
Papandreou. Parliament decided to ask for the trial of the accused by a special
court. The accusations concerned four cases: (a) the 'com scandal' involving a
former minister and other officials who were accused of passing off and trying to
sell Yugoslav corn as Greek to the EC and then using all available means to
cover up the scandal (the state-controlled agency ITCO was directly involved in
this affair); (b) the Koskotas scandal (see below, note 8); (c) the former treasury
minister who was accused of illegally settling a debt to the state; and (d) the
telephone-tapping scandal involving allegations against Andreas Papandreou
personally and other leading party members.
7. It is important to note that the two-year austerity programme (1986-87) was
followed by heavy public spending with the 1989 parliamentary election in view;
see P. Kazakos, 'Oikonomiki politiki kai ekloges: o politikos elenkhos tis
oikonomias stin Ellada', in C. Lyrintzis and H. Nikolakopoulos (eds) Ekloges kai
kommata stin dekaetia tou 1980 (Athens, 1991).
8. The Koskotas scandal erupted in October 1988 when the Central Bank of Greece
appointed a commissioner to the Bank of Crete, owned by Koskotas, after al-
legations that he was stealing from his own bank in order to expand his financial
empire. Koskotas rose from obscurity to power during the 1984-87 period, when
he acquired control over the Bank of Crete and set up a press conglomerate
comprising six periodicals, three daily newspapers and a radio station. His
meteoric rise was achieved with the acquiescence, if not the support, of the
PASOK government. In the course of establishing his empire Koskotas
established close links with prominent PASOK members, including the deputy
prime minister and minister of justice Agamemnon Koutsogiorgas who was
subsequently charged with accepting bribes. It appears that PASOK saw
Koskotas as part of its programme aimed at advancing new entrepreneurial strata
who would reform the structure of the economy. This policy failed miserably as
many of the new businessmen were eventually accused of fraud and
Christos Lyrintzis 45
embezzlement. The inquiry initiated by the Bank of Greece proved that Koskotas
was using the money of the Bank of Crete to expand his empire and that the
bank was 35 billion drachmas in the red.
9. On the populist logic that characterised PASOK's strategy and ideological
discourse, as well as on the implications of this logic for the party's policies and
political practice, see C. Lyrintzis, 'The power of populism: the Greek case',
European Journal of Political Research, xv (1987) pp. 667-86.
10. On PASOK's rise to power, see C. Lyrintzis, 'Between socialism and populism:
the rise of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK)', PhD. dissertation,
University of London (LSE) 1984; also, M. Spourdalakis, The Rise of the Greek
Socialist Party (London, 1988). On the 1981 election that brought PASOK to
power, see G. Mavrogordatos, The Rise of the Green Sun, Centre of
Contemporary Greek Studies, Kings College, London, 1983.
II. Mouzelis distinguishes between 'political integration', which characterises the
experience of the advanced European societies and 'political incorporation', that
characterises the countries of the 'semi-periphery'. Political incorporation takes
the form either of urban populism, or of agrarian populism or of the
reorganisation and expansion of clientelistic networks. SeeN. Mouzelis, Politics
in the Semi-periphery (London, 1986), pp. 15-88.
12. It is characteristic that, as a result of PASOK's welfare policies, Greece's
principal social security agency, the Idryma Koinonikon Asfaliseon (IKA),
became almost bankrupt as its deficit increased from two billion drachmas in
1980 to 365 billion in 1990; Anti, 447 (September 1990), p. 23.
13. Oikonomikos Takhydromos, 11 October 1990, pp. 66-7.
14. C. Lyrintzis, 'Political parties in post-junta Greece: a case of "bureaucratic
clientelism?'", in G. Pridham, (ed.), The New Mediterranean Democracies
(London, 1984).
15. See P. Kazakos, op. cit; on the role of the civil service during the electoral
campaign see K. Spanou, 'Ekloges kai dimosia dioikisi', in C. Lyrintzis, and
H. Nikolakopoulos (eds), op. cit.
16. See C. Lyrintzis, 'The power of populism: the Greek case', op. cit; also,
S. Alexandropoulos, 'Syllogiki drasi kai antiprosopefsi symferonton prin kai
meta tin antipolitefsi', op. cit., passim.
17. K. Tsoukalas, Kratos Koinonia Ergasia (Athens, 1986), pp. 195-259.
18. G. Mavrogordatos, The Rise of the Green Sun, op. cit., p. 50. It must be noted,
however, that according to the 1981 electoral results, even in 1981 the upper
class was relatively under-represented among PASOK's electorate.
19. H. Katsoulis, 'To "anthropino kephalaio" stin diadikasia tou eksykhronismou. I
elliniki "amyntiki koinonia" brosta stin proklisi tou 2000', in T. Giannitsis and
P. Kazakos (eds),/ Ellada pros to 2000, op. cit., pp. 35-48.
20. See N. Mouzelis, Politics in the Semi-periphery, op. cit., pp. 88-94; also
A. Liakos, 'Peri laikismou', Ta Istorika, vi (1989), pp. 13-28.
21. A characteristic example of an occupational category appealing to the state for
protection is that of the workers in ailing, 'problematic' firms; although these
firms are bankrupt, employees facing unemployment demand state intervention
to keep the firms working and thus to maintain their jobs.
22. See G. Mavrogordatos, Metaxy Pytiokampti ke Prokrousti: oi epangelmatikes
organoseis sti Simerini Ellada (Athens, 1988).
23. In the upper and upper-middle-class areas in the Athens agglomeration,
P ASOK' s percentage of the vote in the June 1989 election was about 25 per cent
(the percentage was even lower in the clearly 'bourgeois' areas of Athens). This
46 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
performance, when compared to the percentage PASOK had received in the
same areas in the 1981 and 1985 elections, shows a significant decline in the
party's appeal to the upper and upper-middle classes. See H. Nikolakopoulos, 'I
eklogiki epirroi ton politikon dynameon', in C. Lyrintzis and H. Nikolakopoulos
(eds), op. cit.
24. Elections were held in June 1989, November 1989 and April 1990; the last
election gave Nea Dimokratia 150 seats in the 300-seat parliament. Nea
Dimokratia formed a viable government with the support of the deputy elected
by the Di. Ana party, who subsequently joined Nea Dimokratia.
25. On the role of the Greek state, see K. Tsoukalas, Kratos, Koinonia, Ergasia,
op. cit., pp. 55-144.
26. One could argue that, given the unfavourable circumstances for PASOK in 1989
and 1990, the party's electoral performance in these elections was a success
rather than a failure.
27. SeeP. N. Diamandouros, 'Transition to, and consolidation of democratic politics
in Greece, 1974-83: a tentative assessment', in G. Pridham (ed.), The New
Mediterranean Democracies, op. cit., pp. 50--71.
28. See C. Lyrintzis, 'The rise of PASOK and the emergence of a new political
personnel', in Z. Tzannatos (ed.), Socialism in Greece (London, 1986),
29. E. Kalogeropoulou, 'Election promises and government performance in Greece:
PASOK' s fulfilment of its 1981 election pledges', European Journal of Political
Research, xvii (1989), pp. 189-311.
30. A characteristic case where the reforms introduced by PASOK did not produce
the intended results is local government reform. According to a student of decen-
tralisation in Greece,
the progressive clientelisation of PASOK's organisation and its increasing
reliance on state resources marked the beginning of changes in central-local
relations, as the government often sought to control municipal protest and
discontent with legal-administrative means.... The preservation of the
organisational characteristics of the central state apparatus and their reproduction
in the municipal bureaucracies, indicates the ability of bureaucratic organizations
to obstruct changes affecting their power vis-a-vis municipalities and other
'tutored' and 'controlled' organisations.
See P. Kaler-Christofilopoulou, 'Decentralisation in post-dictatorial Greece',
PhD. dissertation, University of London (LSE), 1989, pp. 369-82.
31. The dominance of claims such as these in Greek society does not imply the
legitimacy of the neo-liberal ideas advanced by Nea Dimokratia. Nevertheless,
they provide an excuse for the curtailment of the powers of the trade unions, for
the introduction of new policies aimed at the rationalisation of the social security
system (the law introduced by the Nea Dimokratia government in September
1990 was adopted in parliament despite the large-scale strikes of both public and
private sector employees) and for the privatisation of ailing firms.
32. Quoted in Eleftherotypia, 22 September 1990.
3 Civil Society under
George Th. Mavrogordatos

PASOK's project concerning organised interests remains the most

neglected and ignored aspect of its rule in the 1980s. The obsession of
Greek and foreign observers alike with foreign policy and its endless
vagaries, and the otherwise fragmentary discussion of domestic policies
have obscured the uniqueness of this project, in terms of coherence,
thoroughness and ruthlessness. The highly selective awareness of only the
most brutal interventions in trade unions alone does not invalidate this
Such neglect is remarkable for three reasons. Firstly, this project was
undoubtedly the most consistent and global of PASOK policies, both in
design and in implementation. It is telling that, until the very end of the
period ofPASOK rule, this remained practically the only area where initial
intentions had been entirely fulfilled and where no reversal of policy could
be observed or even detected. Secondly, this project also provided the
most conclusive acid-test that PASOK never was (and perhaps never can
be) a genuinely socialist (still less a social democratic) party in the
accepted sense of the term. Thirdly and finally, this was probably the most
consequential of PASOK' s domestic policies, since it entailed devastating
and far-reaching consequences which seem irreversible in the foreseeable
future. Only PASOK policy in education may be comparable in this


Whereas Nea Dimokratia after 1974 attempted to implement a halfhearted

and adulterated liberalism at best, PASOK came to power in 1981
purporting to be the bearer of 'socialism'. In fact, what it termed
'socialism' proved to be unadulterated populism at its worst. Nowhere has
this been more evident than precisely in PASOK's treatment of organised
interests in general, and of trade unions in particular.
This is hardly the place to join in the endless debate on populism as
such. 1 What is far more pertinent here is to examine specifically the

48 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
implications of populist rule for organised interests - a curiously neglected
but revealing aspect of the populist syndrome. In this particular respect,
there are telling parallels to be drawn between PASOK and Peronism- the
archetype of populism in power.
The distinctive and constitutive principle of populism is that it pits 'the
People' as an essentially undifferentiated whole (irrespective of class or
other distinctions) against 'the oligarchy' (however defined). It pits the
many against the few, the elite(s) and, typically, the 'foreigners'. In its
international dimension, populism simply identifies 'the People' with the
Nation, struggling against the 'foreigners' and their 'agents'. All this is of
course commonplace in analyses of Peronism. 2 Similarly, in the case of
PASOK, the overriding and even the only 'real' conflict in society was
simply defined as one between all 'non-privileged' Greeks and a small
'oligarchy', the agent of domestic and foreign 'monopolies' .3
With reference to organised interests, it should be obvious that this
primitive dichotomy, with its demonological overtones, can be invoked
with devastating effectiveness and regularity (as both the Peronist and the
PASOK experiences demonstrate) not only against such predictable
scapegoats as businessmen or doctors, but also against striking workers or
protesting farmers. In principle, no one can ever be allowed to stand in
'the People's' way - not even the people itself through its own organ-
isations. In other words, 'the People' in the abstract effectively takes
precedence over its concrete constituent parts - in all matters.
It follows that 'the People's will' in its pristine conceptionis undivided
- and has to remain so. Expressed once and for all in a general election, it
is embodied henceforth in the parliamentary majority (even one manu-
factured by a less than proportional electoral system, as in Greece). It is
here that populism begins to diverge unequivocally from what could be,
after all, a Jacobin conception of parliamentary sovereignty. The parlia-
mentary majority itself is merely an instrument of the populist movement4
and its charismatic leader, in whom 'the People's will' is ultimately
incarnated- if it is to remain undivided. The general election was in effect
just a personal plebiscite. Despite all the original flowery rhetoric on self-
management, PASOK rule in fact produced the most centralised and
personalised structure of authority since 1974 (at least). The only
difference from Peronism, in this respect, lies in the unmediated plebis-
citarian mandate that Argentina's presidential system and electoral rules
readily provided to General Per6n.
George Th. Mavrogordatos 49

When in power, populism has crucial implications for a preliminary but

seldom-addressed question: that of the legitimacy and autonomy of interest
groups. In the specialised literature on organised interests, both are usually
assumed- although in general they cannot be taken for granted. PASOK
rule provides an extreme but instructive illustration in this respect.
Against the background of the deep-rooted legitimacy of parliament,
elections, and, therefore, political parties, the articulation and organisation
of particular interests are traditionally viewed with suspicion, not only in
Greek political culture but also elsewhere (e.g. France).5 Interest groups
obviously lack the aura of popular legitimation. Worse still, they are

Table 3.1 Sympathy for organised interests in Southern Eur.ope (National

averages on a 1 to 10 scale)

Country Labour Small Business• Industrialists


Portugal 4.9 4.6 6.6 4.2
Spain 4.2 4.4 6.8 4.4
CGIL CISL Confindustria
Italy 4.6 4.4 6.6 4.5
Greeceb 7.8 7.5 3.3

Source: 'The political culture of Southern Europe: A four-nation study', a project

coordinated by Giacomo Sani and Julian Santamaria with the participation of:
Mario Bacalhau and Maria Jose Stock in Portugal; Rosa Conde, Ubaldo Martinez
and Jose Ramon Montero in Spain; Giovanna Guidorossi, Renato Mannheimer,
Leonardo Morlino and Maria Weber in Italy; Takis Kafetzis, Elias Nicola-
kopoulos, Constantine Tsoucalas, and George Th. Mavrogordatos in Greece. Tite
four national surveys were conducted in the course of 1985.
"No specific organisation was mentioned.
bAverage sympathy for PASEGES (representing the farmers) was 7.9.
50 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
perceived as perniciously subversive of popular sovereignty, as embodied
in parliament.
To this traditional image of organised interests in general, populism
introduces its own distinctive pattern of discrimination, which reached
unprecedented virulence under the PASOK government The legitimacy of
labour, farmer, and petit-bourgeois interests as such was never challenged:
all three were perceived as partaking of 'the People'. In sharp contrast,
the articulation of bourgeois interests, whether commercial, industrial or
ship-owning, was effectively regarded as somehow congenitally illegit-
imate, especially during PASOK's first term in power. Initially based on
official pronouncements and press reports,6 this analysis was subsequently
validated in the most spectacular manner by public opinion data, which
may be regarded as a typical X-ray diagnosis of populism (see Table 3.1).
The comparison with the three other Southern European countries
brings out both the uniqueness of the Greek case and, by extension, the
distinctiveness of PASOK populism. After all, socialist and communist
traditions, trade unions, and parties have been strong in Italy, Spain and
Portugal, where an identical pattern of striking symmetry emerges:
practically equal (and average) sympathy is expressed for the peak
confederations of both labour and industry, whereas greater (but not
excessive) sympathy is voiced for small businessmen, reflecting their
intermediate class position in exemplary fashion. In sharp contrast, the
manifestly singular Greek pattern is one of extreme polarisation between
a distinctly 'popular' cluster comprising farmers, labour, and small
businessmen, at one end of the scale, and the industrialists - rejected
more than four points away. For them, as many as half the respondents
actually chose the lowest available score of 1, in the (deliberate) absence
In Greece, the legitimacy of interest groups and of their activity is also
traditionally viewed as contingent upon their actual or presumed
autonomy from political parties. The PASOK government, like all
previous governments, seldom failed to challenge the legitimacy of
interest-group demands and actions by denouncing them as 'crassly'
partisan moves of the opposition parties. If legitimacy is in this sense
conditional upon autonomy, the autonomy of interest groups in turn is
predicated upon the legitimacy they command. In the past, state
intervention and effective tutelage of peasant and especially labour
organisations in Greece was linked explicitly to their actual or presumed
penetration by parties of the left. In contrast, the autonomy of bourgeois
interest groups W!lS rarely tampered with (even under authoritarian rule).
George Th. Mavrogordatos 51
Under PASOK, interest-group autonomy was supposed to flourish once
the abusive practices of past conservative governments had been
eradicated. Yet democratisation has actually meant the wholesale
transformation of interest-group structures and statutes through gov-
ernment legislation regulating the most minute details - and often even
through court decisions appointing provisional executives. Whereas state
intervention through legislation and the courts essentially resurrected and
perpetuated past practices, albeit under a different ideological cloak, the
single most novel and radical element of PASOK policy was the imposi-
tion of proportional representation (PR) as the universal and compulsory
system for all interest-group elections. Eventually, only the bourgeois
bastions par excellence (the associations of big retailers, industrialists and
ship-owners) remained unscathed. Otherwise, all interest-group elections
are now contested by thinly-disguised party lists which gain proportional
representation on the governing bodies, reproducing more or less faithfully
the parliamentary party spectrum. Ironically, the issue of legitimacy was
resolved through the liquidation of autonomy: interest groups are now
deemed legitimate only in so far as they are mini-replicas of parliament
(see Table 3.2).
Such a policy is clearly incompatible not only with liberalism but also
with socialism. After all, both liberalism and socialism presuppose - in
both the theoretical and the normative sense- the autonomous organ-
isation and authentic representation of interests. PASOK policy can only
be understood as a logical extension of populism. In terms of the three
major models of interest representation, 7 populist logic rules out the
degree of interest-group autonomy and symmetrical legitimacy that both
pluralism and societal (or neo-) corporatism presuppose. By implication, if

Table 3.2 Party strength in nationwide peak associations, 1990 (estimated in



Fanners (PASEGES) 50 41 9
Labour (GSEE) 18 39 38
Civil service (ADEDY) 35 41 16
Small business (GSEVEE) 30 12 58
Commerce (EESE) 77 8 15
Business chambers (KEE) 70 18 11
52 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
not by default, populist rule is compatible only with state corporatism, as
the Peronist experience amply demonstrates. Glorifications of Peronism as
a labour movement typically overlook the fact that it was originally built
from Colonel Peron's office as Secretary of Labour after the military coup
of 1943, and subsequently consolidated through legislation and manifold
state intervention. 8
In the case of PASOK, populism had broadly similar implications. In
fact, the explicit argumentation accompanying PASOK legislation often
amounted to a candid and summary justification of state corporatism, as if
it were self-evident. The report introducing what became Law 1264 on
trade unions characteristically rejected the 'concession' to those concerned
of 'absolute independence in choosing the type of organisation and mode
of operation' of trade unions. This 'would only bring general disorder with
dubious results'. To justify exhaustive state regulation, no further argu-
ment was required. Similarly, the then minister of agriculture Kostas
Simitis defended Law 1361 on agricultural professional associations by
dismissing the 'erroneous' view that their organisation 'is the exclusive
affair of the farmers'. It is, he argued, the affair of the state because these
associations (supposedly) take part in decision-making and planning, 'in
the organisation of society', and thereby 'the course of society is
affected' .9 According to this sweeping apology for state corporatism,
any association whatsoever and civil society as a whole become the affair
of the state.


Consequently, another crucial implication of populism for organised

interests is the notion that civil society is infinitely malleable in the hands
of those speaking for 'the People' and that it can be reshaped at will by
legislative fiat.
In effect, PASOK ministers set out to throw overboard almost the entire
institutional framework originally created by the Liberal Party (Komma
Phileleftheron) in 1914. 10 Mere mention of its birthdate was actually
considered sufficient and irrefutable proof of its congenital 'reactionary'
essence (in obvious contradiction to PASOK's concurrent claim to be heirs
to the Venizelist legacy). Moreover, their sweeping new legislation was
first concocted by obscure handpicked cliques obsessed with bureaucratic
standardisation, and then rammed through parliament as swiftly as possible.
No effective debate was actually countenanced within the ruling party itself
George Th. Mavrogort:kaos 53
nor among its cadres in the relevant sector- still less in parliament or, least
of all, with the organisations concerned. These were generally treated as
importunate and self-serving supplicants, to whom only minor concessions
were occasionally made. No wonder that legislation proceeded by trial and
error, especially in the case that featured all these traits in the most extreme
form: Law 1541 on agricultural cooperatives, which remains in limbo five
years after it was passed in 1985.
It replaced the less radical Law 1257 of 1982, which had inaugurated
PASOK legislation on organised interests and had been immediately
followed by Law 1264 on trade unions. Law 1361 of 1983 regulated
agricultural associations. Finally, Law 1712 of 1987 regulated the as-
sociations of merchants, tradesmen and craftsmen. That all these laws,
despite their staggered timing, constituted a single and global project is
clearly shown by the common, standardised organisational structure that
they imposed. It is a uniform three-tier structure: 'primary' (mostly local)
associations compose second-order associations (federations) which in
turn compose nationwide peak associations (confederations). 11 All existing
organisations had to conform immediately under penalty of dissolution or
exclusion, whereas no new organisation can be founded that does not
conform to the detailed structure laid down by the relevant law. In effect,
PASOK legislation has practically pre-empted the statutes of all affected
associations, which are now mere repetitions of what the law says. This
global project was eventually completed by Law 1746 of 1988 on the
compulsory chambers of business. In the parallel case of Peronism, suffice
it to mention only the crucial Law on Professional Associations imposed
in 1945 and its new version in 1973, enacted immediately upon the return
of Per6n to power. 12


All this was made possible in Greece by the most mechanical sort of party
discipline, resting on unconditional personal loyalty to the 'President'
(prime minister Andreas Papandreou). Such discipline was invoked not
only in parliament, but also throughout interest groups at all levels. PASOK
cadres everywhere were thereby dragooned into supporting and imple-
menting unconditionally government legislation and policy in general, irre-
spective of their own views and of the organised interests they were
supposed to serve. Deviations were construed as 'betrayals' of the 'Pres-
ident' (hence of 'the People') and sanctioned accordingly by expulsions-
54 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
the secular equivalent of excommunications in the emotionally-charged
context of a populist movement under a charismatic leader.
Charismatic leadership is typical of, if not essential to, populism. It is
precisely charismatic identification with a heroic leader that provides the
most effective magic by which 'the People' can be politically unified
despite its heterogeneity. In contrast, both the ideological and the organ-
isational implications of charisma appear ultimately incompatible with
socialism, since charisma requires blind faith and total devotion to one
individual on the part of his personal followers.
Augusto Vandor, undisputed leader of the Argentinian metalworkers in
the 1960s, is reported to have once said: 'if I abandoned the camiseta I
would lose the union in a week' (the camiseta symbolising loyalty to, and
approval by, Per6n). 13 Some of the most influential and prestigious Greek
union leaders were to undergo precisely that experience in 1985, when
they disobeyed the 'President' - to whom they owed their union offices, as
PASOK and eventually the courts themselves reminded them.


From a specifically populist perspective, the mere existence of elites or

otherwise outstanding or privileged minorities is anathema in itself. In
contrast to other conceptions of equality (whether liberal or socialist),
populist egalitarianism completely disregards functional or qualitative
considerations, which, precisely, smack of 'elitism' in its view. It seeks to
level according to the lowest common denominator in each case, and hopes
to drown all distinctive minorities in vastly superior numbers. It is precisely
in this process of 'drowning by numbers' that 'the People' not only makes
use of its only real and purely numerical strength, but also recaptures and
Consolidates its unity and unanimity .14 This uniquely populist logic
permeated PASOK legislation concerning organised interests.
In agricultural cooperatives, Law 1257 imposed the principle 'one
man-one vote' irrespective of the number of shares, thereby subverting the
primordially economic character of these organisations. Moreover, it set
the minimum value of a share at the ludicrous level of 5000 drs (later raised
to 25 000 by Law 1541 over KKE protests). Both measures were explicitly
intended to break the hold of 'rich farmers' on the cooperatives. They
allowed PASOK and the KKE to flood the cooperatives with 130 000 new
members between 1981 and 1982 (an increase of 18 per cent), predictably
leading to an overwhelming PASOK majority (55 per cent) and KKE over-
George Th. Mavrogordatos 55
representation (14 per cent) in the PASEGES (farmers) elections of January
1983. (In October 1981, their electoral strength in the countryside had been
48 per cent and 8 per cent respectively). Another 100 000 new members
were added to the cooperatives up to 1986, making a total increase of
almost a third since 1981. At a time of shrinking employment in
agriculture, this fantastic increase could hardly represent masses of hitherto
excluded poor (but real) farmers. It only precipitated the transmogrification
of cooperatives from economic enterprises into financially bankrupt
electoral machines, parasitically dependent on state subsidies.
In the labour movement, Law 1264 pursued a similar logic in forcing the
entry of new members, both individual and collective (although the abusive
practices of entrenched union bosses largely justified such measures). The
promotion of company or plant unions in industry and of their new
federation (OVES) by the PASOK government had a different target: to
displace traditional communist influence in the labour movement, drowning
it in the superior numbers of the 'real' but unrepresented 'proletariat'
(which never materialised). The most typical populist pattern, however,
involved the civil service, as befits the salaried sphere which is both the
most hierarchical and the one most completely under government control.
PASOK first used the massive federations of elementary and high-school
teachers as battering-rams to storm the civil-service confederation
(ADEDY) and drown in their numbers the bureaucratic elite of the minis-
tries that had traditionally controlled it. The battering-rams turned into
Trojan horses when the new ADEDY leadership dominated by the teachers,
in tandem with the PASOK government, proceeded to destroy the bureau-
cratic elite itself and to level the rank and pay differentials of civil servants
other than teachers. The demand that civil servants fully partake of 'the
People' by freely engaging in party work and running for office in elections
was a logical extension of the populist mentality. Another extension of the
same logic was the abortive plan to merge ADEDY with GSEE, thereby
terminating the 'elitist' separation of the civil servants from the rest of the
'working people'. In practical and partisan terms, as in all other instances,
this populist imperative would involve a double-edged benefit for PASOK:
it would 'drown in numbers' and thereby dilute both the considerable
strength of Nea Dimokratia in ADEDY and the considerable strength of the
KKE in GSEE (see Table 3.2).
Whereas state intervention in the organisations of farmers and wage-
earners on behalf of the poor, the lowly and the excluded might be
construed in principle as socialist, irrefutable proof of the specifically
populist logic of PASOK legislation is provided by its ambition to
56 Greece, 1981-IJ9: The Populist Decade
'democratise' business associations as well. In its initial drafts, what
became Law 1712 was global in scope and made no exceptions, forcing
even the associations of big business into the same 'democratic' mould:
'one man-one vote', PR, and thereby, potentially, party lists. Once these
organisations were exempted (as associations composed exclusively of
companies rather than individuals), the traditional merchants' associations
remained the prime target of Law 1712. Their supposedly 'exclusive' and
'elitist' character was expected to be drowned by the numbers ()f new
members, for whom a ludicrous registration fee of a few hundred drachmas
was set by law. Since companies can no longer be members of the business
associations regulated by Law 1712, its broader target was far more
ambitious and distinctly populist: to separate and segregate small business-
men (mikromesaioi) from big capital. As a PASOK minister candidly
explained, this segregation would help small businessmen overcome their
'apolitical' stance and the 'misleading' antithesis between employer and
employee, and eventually join the rest of the 'working people' .15
Again, it was in the sphere most totally under state control - the
compulsory chambers of business -that populist logic ran amuck. By
merging the chambers of commerce and industry with those of trades and
crafts and dividing the new integrated chambers into two sections, one for
trade and one for manufacturing, what became Law 1746 sought to realise
at one stroke the wildest of populist dreams: to drown the 'oligarchy' of
merchants and industrialists in a sea of small shopkeepers and craftsmen.
If the aim - to neutralise the powerful few - was the same as that of Law
1712, the method was exactly the reverse: inclusion rather than exclusion.
The scope of Law 1746 was therefore even more ambitious, since it
engulfed companies as well. That it was eventually amended and eroded in
the changed circumstances of 1988 is less telling than the fact that it was
attempted at all - and stubbornly pursued to the bitter end, over continuing
business protests.


From a specifically populist perspective, another sort of intolerable

deviation involves the actual political make-up of interest groups. 'The
People's will' is supposedly defied and subverted not only by the actions
of self-serving minorities, but also by their deviant partisan loyalties (the
latter providing the only acceptable explanation of the former). After
1981, it was thus regarded as somehow anomalous and suspect that Nea
George Th. Mavrogordatos 57
Dimokratia should conserve an obvious majority even in such eminently
bourgeois strongholds as the merchants' associations and the chambers of
commerce and industry!
By this absurd logic, parliament is not just the embodiment of popular
sovereignty. Its actual composition becomes also the only authentic
blueprint of 'the People's will', against which everything else is to be
measured - and to which it has to conform if found deviant. Whereas
parliament, local government and organised interests (albeit 'popular'
ones like trade unions and agricultural cooperatives) were initially
supposed to become the three pillars of the new 'socialist' dispensation,
the latter two were actually expected to conform to the first and become
indistinguishable from it as transmission belts of the same 'political will'.
In this sense, one is entitled to speak of a specifically populist equivalent
to Gleichschaltung (in the literal sense of 'synchronisation') endeavouring
to turn all interest groups, down to the smallest local association, into
mini-replicas of parliament with respect to party composition. 16
In conjunction with 'drowning by numbers', the principal means to this
populist Gleichschaltung was proportional representation (PR), relent-
lessly imposed by legislative fiat as the compulsory electoral system in all
occupational interest groups (except, in the end, those of big business).
The attendant glorification ad nauseam of PR as the only democratic
electoral system requires no discussion. Its thoroughly pharisaic character
was sufficiently demonstrated by the fact that, according to its PASOK
exponents, PR was the 'only' democratic system everywhere except
parliamentary and municipal elections. It was adopted for parliamentary
elections only in 1989, on the eve ofPASOK's downfall, and then only to
prevent the achievement of a parliamentary majority by Nea Dimokratia.
'Democratisation', the catchword of PASOK legislation on organised
interests, thus became tantamount to proportional representation. Other-
wise, 'democratisation' involved the relentless pursuit of uniformity and
standardisation by legislative fiat, down to the most minute organisational
details as conceived by ministerial advisers. Last but not least, it also
involved brutal interventions by less than independent courts replacing
elected executives with appointed 'provisional' ones and thereby creating
accomplished facts for blatant partisan purposes. No less than four such
appointments were made in GSEE (1981, 1983, 1985 and 1986), plus one
in ADEDY (1982) and one in GSEVE (1984). It is true that this power of
judicial appointment was provided for in the 1914 legislation (as an
exceptional measure to salvage leaderless associations) and had often been
abused before. What was entirely new, however, was the climate of
58 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
distinctly populist intimidation of the courts. Prime Minister Andreas
Papandreou himself solemnly warned them, in respect of the constitu-
tionality of new legislation, about going against 'the People's will'. As he
was later to declare: 'there are no institutions, only the People'.
By comparison, Peronism certainly used far more brutal methods in
pursuing the same populist logic and in weeding out deviant minorities.
1be majority system and its manipulation made it much easier to silence
the opposition in the labour movement. In Argentina, there was also direct
government intervention and extensive violence by both police and thugs. 17


Ironically, the institutional innovation most likely to survive PASOK rule

is also the most perverse in its consequences for organised interests. This
is PR as the compulsory electoral system. An old demand of the left
perennially resisted by the right, it was imposed at a time when PASOK
could not count on a majority of its own (especially when Nea Dimokratia
abstained, as in OSEE until1989) or, failing that, on a stable alliance with
the KKE as a junior partner. By the time these conditions no longer
obtained, PR commanded an overall party consensus and seemed thereby
irreversible in principle. All-party consensus is hardly surprising, since PR
has resulted in the complete penetration and domination of interest
associations by external party machines. Far from merely ratifying an
existing state of affairs, as claimed, it actually forced party divisions even
where none existed or were relevant before, thereby destroying the
cohesiveness of all associations, down to the smallest
The uniqueness of the Greek situation should not be blurred by
misleading analogies. In Greece, PR operates in the context of a single
and unitary organisational structure, within which all three major party
factions (or 'fractions' in the German sense) constantly vie for supremacy
since none is assured of a stable majority, while they are all subject to
externally-enforced party discipline. In so far as it involves single and
unitary associations internally fragmented by party, the Greek situation is
radically different from cases where party divisions have led to several
competing associations, each of which is allowed to preserve its
cohesiveness (as in France, Italy, Spain or Portugal). In so far as it
involves strict subordination to external party control (which is not limited
to the case of KKE), the Greek situation is also radically different from
cases where a recognised division of roles between party and interest
George Th. Mavrogordatos 59
group also implies the autonomy of party cadres and supporters in the
latter's midst (as with all social democratic parties). Perhaps the most
relevant and telling contrast, however, is with the very few cases (in
Austria, Israel and Venezuela) where elections in single and unitary
interest groups are contested by party lists under PR. One party is
nonetheless assured of a stable and usually overwhelming majority, in
accordance with conventional class logic. Continuity and cohesiveness are
thereby safeguarded. In sharp contrast, almost all Greek interest associ-
ations are literally 'up for grabs' by all three major parties, in a constant
re-enactment of the parliamentary elections - whether to confirm or to
challenge their outcome. Accordingly, the rank and file are compelled to
vote as they would vote in the parliamentary elections themselves.
Moreover, PR as imposed on Greek interest associations involves the
composition of the executive itself, which is unable to operate whenever no
majority can be formed to elect top officers (president, secretary-general,
etc.). This is precisely the sort of deadlock that has become increasingly
common since 1985 and has often brought even the strongest labour
organisations to a standstill. To break the stalemate without bringing PR
into question, the KKE proposed, and eventually imposed, what amounts to
its ultimate consequence: the distribution of top executive offices among all
parties, according to their strength. However, the problem is merely
deferred in this way, since the officers elected may still not collaborate
among themselves and may even ignore binding decisions with impunity if
no majority can be formed subsequently to revoke and replace them. Law
1541 on agricultural cooperatives even requires a two-thirds majority in
this case, with the result that the PASOK president ofPASEGES continued
in office despite the absolute majority mustered against him by ND and
KKE in 1988. 18 The reductio ad absurdum was provided by PASOK union
presidents openly denouncing official strikes called by their own unions in
accordance with statutory provisions. The ultimate cons~uence of
proportional representation may thus be no representation at all. 1


This is, then, the end-result of 'democratisation' under the auspices of

PASOK. The three most numerous classes in Greek society- labour,
farmers and small businessmen - actually lack authentic or authoritative
spokesmen, especially at the level of their peak confederations. When, as
in 1986, the small businessmen (GSEVE) appear to offer pay increases
60 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
that the workers (GSEE) appear to refuse, no amount of rationalisation
can salvage the credentials of their respective spokesmen. In fact, it is the
KKE that is offering, as GSEVE, what it cannot demand as GSEE.
Conversely, it is the PASOK government that is refusing, as GSEE, what
the KKE demands. For its part, PASEGES was left without any
spokesman whatsoever in 1990, when it split down the middle between
Nea Dimokratia and all the other parties.
In the obsessive pursuit of a specifically populist Gleichschaltung,
PASOK forced civil society into its bureaucratically prefabricated mould,
in truly Procrustean fashion. No wonder that civil society has been
crippled in the process - and the damage may well be irreparable, at least
for the foreseeable future. At a time when consensus is, belatedly, the
order of the day, its essential preconditions are therefore missing. This is
particularly true of labour relations, where statutory restraints and
compulsory arbitration are giving way to free collective bargaining. The
unions are simply not in a position to assume their responsibilities in this
respect. If PASOK itself has come to recognise and extol the virtue and
even the necessity of consensus, both the mentality it has cultivated and,
above all, the structures it has imposed in the meantime are fundamentally
unfit for the purpose.
What is even more remarkable and telling, in the long run, is the
absence of effective resistance to the populist Leviathan. All such efforts
(especially by PASOK dissidents reclaiming their integrity) proved
shortlived and ineffectual, contributing further to apathy, cynicism and
resignation. Throughout the PASOK years, a divided civil society was
being passively cannibalised by the state. Over and above its perennial
structural weakness, due to the enduring peculiarities of the economy,
divisions in its midst were exploited and exacerbated by the state in what
can only be described as salami tactics. No common front could be
expected among organised interests that have always depended on the
state for protection - including protection against each other. Big business
had the key role to play in this respect, especially in so far as it managed,
once again, to safeguard the integrity of its own organisations. As in the
past, however, the bourgeoisie seemed to accept, or even to prefer, state
intervention in the organisations of the other classes. In the short term, at
least, it was bound to benefit from such intervention.
What civil society could not do for itself might have been expected of
two parties - Nea Dimokratia and the KKE - whose ideological tenets
coincide in ruling out the falsification of class interests by state interven-
tion. In this sense, their unprecedented convergence and even joint action
George Th. Mavrogordatos 61
in GSEE, ADEDY, GSEVE and PASEGES involved much more than an
opportunistic alliance of bilateral oppositions to the PASOK government.
Understandably, however, neither side was prepared to draw the necessary
conclusions and construct a common front in defence of civil society.
Moreover, neither party has been consistent in this respect. Both parties
now share an entrenched interest in perpetuating the penetration and
domination of interest associations by external party machines, enshrined
in PR. In this sense, the gag on civil society was placed by all major
parties together. This is certainly the experience of the average delegate to
the assemblies of most interest associations, where only party spokesmen
now enjoy an unlimited right to speak (as is the case in parliament itself).


Apart from the big-business associations, only two forces survived and
even grew stronger under PASOK: local and especially sectional parti-
cularism (which is now referred to as the 'guild mentality'). By definition,
both are capable only of obstructing, but not of formulating, a broader
conception of the public interest.
Although by no means new, sectional particularism has become an
intractable problem under PASOK. The term itself, syntekhnia (guild) and
its derivatives, acquired a modem meaning and entered contemporary
polemics precisely during the first years of PASOK rule, to designate what
was generally perceived to be a novel situation. To account for this devel-
opment, three main reasons may be broadly identified.
(a) From the very beginning, PASOK's populism served to legitimise
and multiply the demands of even the narrowest categories, as long as they
could claim to partake of the interests of 'the People'. In practice, this has
promoted mostly the vested interests, perquisites and restrictive practices
of special categories in the public sector endowed with a high blackmail
potential, since their strikes can paralyse vital activities: power,
communications, transport, garbage disposal, banks, hospitals, schools,
etc. It is precisely for them that common usage reserves the term 'guilds'.
(b) On the other hand, by depriving large nation-wide organisations of
any autonomy and any long-term strategic capacity, PASOK policy
inadverte:ttly created a political vacuum and left the field open to the
recurrent explosion of uncontrollable particularistic demands. No over-
arching solidarity nor countervailing organisational power can check and
contain the selfishness of the 'guilds', whether they act on their own or
62 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
through the corresponding peak confederation, which is entirely dependent
on them since no other member organisation can match their compactness,
financial independence and blackmail-potential. Given the notorious
weakness of unions in the private sector, even the supposedly 'general'
strikes called by GSEE would go unnoticed if it were not for the 'guilds'
of the public sector and the disruption they cause. No wonder that the
outcome of such strikes typically meets only the particular demands of the
latter instead of the general demands for which the strike was ostensibly
called. A recent and conclusive demonstration was provided in September
1990, when labour opposition failed to limit the consequences of the new
law on pensions for all but the 'guilds', which succeeded once again in
conserving their often exorbitant pension privileges. The case of ADEDY
offers another illustration of the perverse effects of the populist logic, as
manipulated by the elementary and high-school teachers. Once they had
managed (through ADEDY) to level pay and rank differentials for all civil
servants, as mentioned already, they proceeded to demand, and obtain,
special bonuses for themselves alone- and have been competing ever
since both among themselves and with other civil servants for further
(c) In the absence of nation-wide structures capable of enforcing a
broader conception of collective interest and solidarity, party control
might appear as a substitute brake on particularistic pressures. This is not
so, however, since party discipline itself eventually breaks down when it
clashes with the 'guild' mentality. If every interest group down to the
smallest has become a replica of parliament (thanks to PR), it is yet
another arena of party competition on a continuous, almost daily basis.
The competitors may thus be the same everywhere but the agenda is not. It
has nothing to do with problems of national policy, but is set instead by
the narrow concerns and interests peculiar to each particular association. It
is around these that party competition inevitably revolves, degenerating
into constant outbidding on the part of the party spokesmen. In con-
junction with the extremely narrow margin for victory in parliamentary
elections, this situation creates a vicious circle of mutual dependence
between the parties and their supporters in each and every interest group.
It may appear that the parties are in control, and this is indeed true of
nation-wide peak organisations with no real clout but high symbolic value,
like GSEE. Further down, however, it is the parties that become captive of
the special interests served by their own cadres and supporters, whom they
cannot afford to lose. In the end, it is the special interests that have the
upper hand.
George Th. Mavrogordatos 63
It is hard to see how this vicious circle might be broken. Only
exceptionally can a party afford to withdraw unilaterally from a particular
arena. If Nea Dimokratia did precisely that by not running a slate in the
federation of temporary public employees in the spring of 1990, it was
only because no compromise was conceivable between the future Nea
Dimokratia government and this category, which was to ·disappear
altogether. Otherwise, a moratorium honestly kept by all parties is
extremely hard to achieve and impose even under an all-party government,
as the shortlived Zolotas experience in 1989-90 demonstrated. In early
1990, it offered the ludicrous spectacle of a government supported by all
major parties and yet powerless in its confrontation with the garbage-
disposal strike engineered and led by their own union cadres. Under
normal circumstances, a moratorium is simply unthinkable. The party in
government is bound to discover, sooner or later, that its cadres and
supporters simply will not act as a brake on social unrest if this requires
that they betray their own 'guild' and its interests. For their part, and
regardless of their private views, the opposition parties cannot help
encouraging, manipulating and exploiting any and all sectional claims and
strikes, like apprentice sorcerers unleashing forces that they cannot
A poisoned legacy of PASOK policy, this inextricable interpenetration
of sectional and party interests constitutes the ultimate reversal and
nemesis of populism, since it benefits the powerful and privileged few
within 'the People' itself, at the expense of the many. It represents also a
formidable obstacle to the modernisation of Greece and therefore
contributes to its increasing marginality within the European Community.


1. See especially E. Laclau, Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory, (London,

1977) and M. Canovan, Populism (London, 1981).
2. See, for example, D. James, Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the
Argentine Working Class, 1946-1976 (Cambridge, 1988), p. 261.
3. It was a stroke of genius to coin the term 'non-privileged', with which practically
all Greeks could identify, in place of 'underprivileged', which would have been
resented and rejected by many.
4. PASOK significantly stands for Panhellenic Socialist Movement (not 'Party'), a
term retained by its Second Congress in September 1990 for 'historical reasons',
as Papandreou put it.
64 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
5. See F. L. Wilson, Interest-Group Politics in France (Cambridge, 1987), p. 11.
The influence of Rosseau is obvious in this context.
6. See my paper, 'Interest groups in contemporary Greece: the twin issues of
legitimacy and autonomy' (presented to the workshop on 'Corporatism in
Mediterranean Europe', Joint Sessions of the European Consortium for Political
Research, Barcelona, 25-30 March 1985).
7. SeeP. C. Schmitter, 'Still the century of corporatism?' in P. C. Schmitter and
G. Lehmbruch (eds), Trends toward Corporatist Intermediation (London, 1979),
pp. 7-52.
8. See James, op. cit., pp. 9-11. Also, ibid., pp. 202-3, and J. J. Sebreli, Los deseos
imaginarios del peronismo (Buenos Aires, 1983), pp. 67 and 186, on the
explicitly corporatist sympathies and aspirations of Peronism.
9. See G. Th. Mavrogordatos, Metaxy Pityokampti kai Prokrousti: oi
epangelmatikes organoseis sti simerini Ellada (Athens, 1988), pp. 136 and 90.
10. Ibid., pp. 41-3.
11. This was regarded by PASOK advisers as 'the only valid model'. In so far as it
entails the complete legal and organisational independence of local associations,
it is practically unknown in contemporary Europe, but seems to be typical of
Latin America. See especially the chapters on Brazil, Chile and Colombia in E.
C. Epstein (ed.), Labor Autonomy and the State in Latin America (Boston, 1989).
12. Ibid., pp. 19-21, and Sebreli, op. cit., pp. 101-5.
13. James, op. cit., p. 185.
14. On the cult of unanimity in Peronism, see Sebreli, op. cit., pp. 190-l.
15. Mavrogordatos, op. cit., p. 177.
16. In the case of the first judicial appointment of a GSEE executive in 1981, this
logic of 'synchronisation' was explicitly argued by Papandreou's son-in-law:
'the electoral outcome of 18 October justifies and imposes the majority
representation of GSEE by socialist trade unionists,' Th. K. Katsanevas, To
synchrono syndikalistiko kinima stin Ellada (Athens, 1985), p. 162.
17. See especially James, op. cit., and Sebreli, op. cit., passim.
18. Mavrogordatos, op. cit., p. 74.
19. The experience of interest groups as testing-grounds for PR and coalition
governments prefigured exactly what was to happen on the national level in
4 The Presidency, Parliament
and the Courts in the 1980s
Nicos C. Alivizatos

The fundamental hypothesis of this chapter is that in a bipolar parliamentary

system, such as the one that functioned in Greece in the 1980s, the head of
state, parliament and the courts appear to be the most important and efficient
counter-force against the overwhelming power of the cabinet and of the
parliamentary majority that supports it. By being institutionalised and by
assuming a role guaranteed by the constitution, the president (and, to a lesser
extent, the king in parliamentary monarchies), the deputies and the judges may
prevent the ruling party from becoming abusive. At the same time, they may
safeguard individual freedoms and preserve the rights of minorities, as well as
the latter's legitimate expectation that they may, in turn, become majorities.
In the case of contemporary Greece, the balancing function of the above
three counter-forces is even more crucial, to the extent that the so-called
'non-institutionalised' guarantees for the respect of the rules of the game
and of the rule of law, either societal or political, are by tradition skeletal
and underdeveloped. To the traditional weakness of civil society, one
should add the lack of autonomous mass organisations which, situated out-
side the strictly political arena, could potentially initiate collective action,
irrespective of the ruling party's tactics and strategies. 1 Moreover, the
parties themselves do not tolerate organised fractions, while their internal
rules and practices seldom adhere, to say the least, to the purest democratic
procedures. Last but not least, party discipline directly affects the role and
status of individual deputies who are, as a general rule, over-dependent on,
and subordinated to, their respective leaderships and, therefore, are unable
and unwilling to contest the official party line, even on minor issues.
To use a recent expression of Maurice Duverger, Greece in the 1980s
kept company with those EC countries which unlike the 'weak' democra-
cies modelled on the Italian consensual archetype, formed the Europe de
la decision. 2 The aim of this chapter is to show that whenever majoritarian
rule, by which Duverger has recently been so fascinated, is not linked to
effective controls, a major crisis may rise, both at the moral and at the
political level; a crisis which is capable of affecting the very foundations
of parliamentary government.

66 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade

The debate over the powers of the president of the Greek Republic under
the 1975 constitution is well enough known not to need retracing here. 3
Rehearsing the main arguments of the two sides could, however, be useful
for the purposes of this chapter.
For President Karamanlis and his supporters, the president of the newly-
created Republic should, in addition to the traditional prerogatives
recognised in the head of the state of a parliamentary democracy, have
some powers which, under certain specific circumstances, would oblige
the government and the ruling majority to seek the people's verdict. By
nature dissuasive, these additional powers included the dissolution of
parliament, the holding of referenda 'on crucial national issues' and even
the dismissal of the cabinet. They would all be exercised without the
prime minister's consent and envisage the possibility of major political
changes should parliament and the electorate approve the president's
initiative.4 To recall the key word used in the constitution, the president
was to be the 'regulator' of the regime. 5 He was not supposed to be a
substitute for the cabinet. In Karamanlis's terms, he would have more
powers than his Bonn counterpart but less than the president of the French
Fifth Republic. He would have sufficient prerogatives 'to perform his
regulatory role, that is to harmonize relations between the people and the
Chamber and between the Chamber and the cabinet, in order to ensure the
normal course of [parliamentary government] .
To this, Konstantinos Tsatsos, who was at the same time in charge of
the drafting of the relevant provisions, added:'[ ... ] the president of the
Republic has merely reserve powers [... ]. And he can exercise these
powers only for a while, in order to ask the people to decide, with the
shortest possible delay, on one or the other direction.' 7
For its part, the opposition, which included the Enosis Kentrou, PASOK
and the two communist parties, pointed to past precedent; that is, to the
traditional tendency of the monarchy to intervene in the political sphere. In
their view, although elected, the head of the state should have only
nominal and formal powers, while real power should lie in the hands of
the cabinet and of the Chamber, to which the former should be exclusively
accountable. 8 Overdramatised during the first period of the transition to
democracy, that debate led to a major clash, to the detriment of the
consensual spirit that had initially prevailed in the drafting of the new
constitution. At the final vote, in June 1975, the constitution was thus
approved only by Nea Dimokratia deputies. 9
Nicos C. Alivizatos 67

Throughout the Tsatsos and Karamanlis presidential terms, the crucial

prerogatives of the head of the state were never activated. However, while
for the fonner's term in office (1975--80), the president's inaction and low
profile can easily be explained and understood in view of the personal ties
between, and of the common political background of, Tsatsos and the
prime minister Karamanlis, the question becomes more complex as
regards the latter's presidential tenn, and especially the period of the
Karamanlis/PASOK 'co-habitation' between 1981 and 1985.
At the outset, it is more than sure that, by de-dramatising the impact of
allagi or 'change', the mere presence of Karamanlis in the presidency
helped PASOK's advent to power in 1981. Moreover, although official
evidence is lacking, there is good reason to believe that during the first
weeks of socialist rule, Karamanlis ensured the nonnal transfer of power to
the new administration. This was especially true as far as some crucial
branches of the state apparatus were concerned, such as the police and the
armed forces/ 0 where PASOK's electoral victory was viewed with
reluctance if not distrust. 11 At the same time, Karamanlis praised more than
once various initiatives of the socialist government throughout the first and
more active years of its term, namely in the fields of decentralisation and
local government, the national health system and family law, if not the
taboo issue of the official recognition of the anti-Axis resistance during the
wartime occupation between 1941 and 1944. 12 PASOK ministers paid
frequent visits to the presidential palace and Papandreou himself frequently
referred to the constructive climate that prevailed during his various
meetings with the president. Last but not least, Karamanlis' s wisdom and
qualities were openly praised by the prime minister, who more than once
indicated that he himself did not exclude the idea of a re-election of his old
adversary for a second term, with the support of PASOK. 13
The approach of the European election of June 1984, along with the
often blindly extremist tactics of the new leader of Nea Dimokratia,
Evangelos A veroff, seemed to trouble for the first time the apparently
harmonious co-existence of president and prime minister. Although he
abstained from open intervention, Karamanlis started more and more often
to use ambiguous language, which while understated, increasingly
indicated that he was no longer indifferent toward the ruling party's
actions. 14 However, the proximity of the 1985 presidential election and
Karamanlis's unavowed but obvious desire to seek a second presidential
term, this time with bipartisan support, inhibited him from employing a
more critical tone towards the by-now blatantly populist tactics of the
PASOK government. Papandreou's spectacular change of mind over his
68 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
party's candidate for the presidency, at the end of Karamanlis's term,
affected the institution of the presidency. A former judge, known for the
persecutions he had suffered during, and even before, the colonel's
dictatorship, Khristos Sartzetakis, was elected to the presidency thanks to
the unexpected assistance of the .KKE and to the unacceptable methods
used by PASOK to ensure the vote of the constitutional minimum of 180
deputies in favour of the single candidate. ts At the same time, the
constitution was amended, and most of the previously criticised 'super-
powers' of the president of the Republic were transferred to the
parliamentary majority, in fact to the prime minister, whose powers were
thus further increased. 16 Sartzetakis' s term was marked by his scrupulous
attachment to the letter of the constitution and by his striking inability to
perceive the political dimension of his office. His powers had, of course,
been curtailed, but they were not insignificant. In the few instances they
were actually exercised, their political substance was sacrificed to an old-
fashioned respect for the formalities involved in the presidential function.
Combined with Sartzetakis's anachronistic personal views on morals and
on the role that Greece should play in the contemporary world, 17 his
attachment to formalities and his legalistic interpretation of the con-
stitution did not leave him much space to influence the day-to-day running
of affairs. 18
It is not surprising, therefore, that some observers have linked the
increasingly arrogant style of the PASOK government, after 1985, with
the ousting of Karamanlis. Though it would seem exaggerated to attribute
to the 1985 change in the presidency the corruption and moral crisis of the
last phase of PASOK' s term in office, it is equally true that the removal of
that potential threat to the ruling party's omnipotence and cohesion
accelerated the latter's inclination more and more to neglect the rules of
the parliamentary game.


As opposed to a working assembly, the Greek chamber of deputies has

traditionally been a 'talking' parliament. With the exception of some short
periods, when consensual practices prevailed over sharp rhetoric, 19
throughout its almost 150-year history, the Vouli has been more of a
platform for spectacular confrontations between government and
opposition than a place for debating the real issues. 20 Aiming to ensure
efficiency in government at the expense, if necessary, of cabinet
Nicos C. Alivizatos 69
accountability, the 1975 constitution outrageously privileges the executive
in parliament, while ignoring procedures that could lead toward more
consensual modes of political competition. Characteristically, speedy
procedures have been provided for the adoption of bills originating in the
cabinet, while the legislative initiatives of opposition deputies are subject to
numerous and substantial procedural restrictions that render the enactment
of laws and amendments which do not have the approval of the relevant
minister virtually impossible. 21 The voting of the budget, to give another
example, which remains in theory a fundamental and exclusive competence
of the Chamber, has been reduced to a procedure lasting less than a week
and consisting of a general debate on the economy, which does not allow
any thorough discussion of specific items. 22 At the same time, despite some
interesting innovations introduced in the 1987 standing orders, 23 the
Chamber's second main function (that is, parliamentary control) does not
ensure open and responsible debate of really sensitive issues. 24 It is worth
noting, in this respect, that until 1989, the entire control work of parliament
and the most substantial part of the lawmaking process took place in the
Chamber in plenary session and not before the parliamentary committees
which, by virtue of their smaller size and different rules, could in principle
have encouraged more responsible and consensual behaviour. 25 Finally,
despite the positive steps contained in the 1987 standing orders, the
conduct of parliamentary work, including the setting of the agenda,
depends exclusively on the house Speaker, i.e. on the ruling majority. 26
There is no need to insist further on the rules regulating parliamentary
work. On the contrary, for the purpose of this chapter, attention should be
drawn to the major factors that seem to have determined the Chamber's
role in the 1980s. At first, the predominantly 'talking' character of the
single Chamber of parliament was decisively enhanced by the majoritarian
parameter and, in a more general way, by the bipolar mode of party
competition on the right-versus-left pattern. In the name of a primarily
ideological conflict between the so-called 'conservative' and 'progressive'
forces, the exchange of concrete arguments within and outside the Chamber
and rational political discourse have been downgraded to the level of over-
simplified generalisations. On the other hand, the way in which opposition
was practised within the Chamber was at the same time the cause and the
consequence of this kind of symbol-oriented parliamentary process. With
the significant exception of Greece's position in the international
community, on which, despite appearances, the two main parties in-
creasingly converged/7 opposition has been basically of a destructive
nature. In fact, since 1977, obstructionism has become an everyday
70 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
parliamentary practice at the expense of constructive opposition. Obstruc-
tionism included endless lists of speakers, repetitive speeches adding
nothing to what has already been said, or even non-participation in, or
withdrawal from, some crucial debates, as a sign of what has been qualified
by a prominent PASOK leader as 'structural opposition' .28 It was practised
by PASOK before 1981 and by Nea Dimokratia after. 29 As for the
communist left, its small representation did not permit it to play any
substantial role in parliament, at least before the conservative/left coalition
that emerged from the June 1989 election. 30 Thus, despite the fact that, with
time, the points of real disagreement on fundamental political issues
between the major political parties became less and less evident, the level
of debate in parliament remained destructively antagonistic.
Lastly, specific mention should be made of party control of the
Chamber of Deputies; that is, to the generally successful attempt by the
parties to monopolise parliamentary activity at the expense of individual
deputies. Party discipline involved, inter alia, restriction of the right of
individual deputies to speak and use certain means of parliamentary con-
trol and, in general, almost total subordination to party and parliamentary
group leaderships. 31 This tendency was substantially enhanced by the
abolition of the preference vote in 1982 and the institution by the party
leadership of the so-called 'closed list' of party candidates in each con-
stituency.32 On the other hand, small parliamentary groups, which were
and still are not recognised as parties under both the 1975 and the 1987
standing orders,33 have almost as constricted rights as individual deputies.
In this way, parliamentary activity has in fact been monopolised by the
larger parties and, in practice, by the first and second which, significantly
although without openly admitting it, have tended to agree on the non-
consensual conduct of parliamentary business. Thus a kind of silent
consensus seemed increasingly to prevail between the two larger parties
on the non-consensual way in which the parliamentary game should be
played. To conclude, one may say that in the 1980s the Vouli, or parlia-
ment, has functioned more as a forum for ideological confrontation than as
a working body capable of exercising responsible and efficient control
over government action.


The Greek judge is above all a civil-law traditionjudge. His role, place,
social status and education are therefore strikingly different compared to
Nicos C. Alivizatos 71
his counterpart in common law countries. While the latter is perceived as a
protagonist of the game, who creates, develops and abolishes legal rules,
the former, to use John Merryman's expression, is supposed to act as a
mere 'operator of a machine designed by scientists and built by
legislators' ,34 whose main function is to enforce the law, without seeking
openly to acquire real political influence. Therefore, contesting the law
enacted by a representative body, i.e. by parliament, which, in Rousseau's
famous expression, is the expression of the people's general will, is a task
that, despite the constitutional provisions which say the opposite, has until
very recently been exercised with extreme caution and restraint all over
the continent, even in cases where fundamental rights are involved. 35
In Greece, since the end of the nineteenth century, the judges (all
judges, of all jurisdiction, rank and degree) are supposed to review the
constitutionality of legislation. 36 To be more precise, this competence is
not a right of the judiciary but an obligation imposed upon it by the
constitution itself since 1927. However, whenever important political
issues are involved, this obligation is perceived in a very restrictive and
scholastic fashion. One has the feeling that the Greek judge, acting more
as an agent of the state than as an independent arbitrator, is above all
trying to 'save' the contested provision and to serve the public interest as
defined by the legislator in each case. In 'hard cases', therefore, it is not
surprising that the number of occasions on which the Greek courts have
actually declared laws to be unconstitutional over the last century is very
small. 37
However, in terms of legal history and sociology, this lack of judicial
activism is not only due to the implications of the civil law tradition and to
the positivistic perception of the legal profession which the latter involves.
For more than four decades prior to the fall of the colonels' dictatorship in
1974 if not later, a series of controls, comprising, but not limited to, the
candidates' philosophical and political views, have kept out of the
judiciary persons who, though possessing the qualifications required by
law, were seen as potential threats to prevailing social and political values.
As a consequence, by the beginning of the 1980s, the judiciary consisted
of judges who, in their great majority and especially in the upper ranks,
were unready unreservedly to admit major legislative initiatives, which
could openly contest these values. How then would these judges react
toward PASOK's legislative activism? Would their traditional self-
restraint prevail, or would they demonstrate, for the first time in the
country's legal history, a sort of judicial activism, in the name of respect
for the existing social and political order? Occasions for such activism
72 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
appeared very soon after PASOK's advent to power. The first cases
involved the removal of high-ranking civil servants, in a fashion that
exceeded the usual limits of the traditional spoils system. 38
Then came the new legislation on the universities, which was contested
mainly in view of the constitutional guarantees of the status of the former
full professors and of the so-called 'self-administration' of higher
education institutions.39 The national health system, which was linked to a
legislative prohibition on the establishment of new, and the extension of
existing, private clinics, came next. 40 The removal of the boards of
directors of the so-called 'problematic' enterprises and their substitution
by boards unilaterally selected and appointed by the competent minister41
was the last but not the least in the list of major cases during the first, and
more innovative, period of PASOK's term in office, from 1981 to 1985.
How would the courts react?
Save for the invalidation of some minor legislative provisions, the
essence of almost all of PASOK's statutory innovations were upheld. 42
The traditional self-restraint of the civil law judges ultimately prevailed
over their political inclinations. In addition, state interventionism and
regulation, which were the primordial characteristics of most of the above
legislative measures, were justified in the eyes of the judges in view of
their traditional propensity to perceive public interest in the widest
possible fashion. 43
Interestingly enough, the judges demonstrated the same self-restraint
vis-a-vis the unprecedented measures taken by the PASOK government
between 1985 and 1987 in order to block salary increases within the
rigorous austerity programme. Strikes for wage increases were in fact
forbidden and very severe penalties were threatened against employers
granting salaries over and above the limits fixed by the government. 44 1t
would, therefore, be no exaggeration to say that the courts did not act as an
efficient countervailing force to the PASOK government during its term in


Until very recently, the constitutional history of Greece has been char-
acterised by a deeply-rooted pattern. Despite the impressive achievements
of early constitutionalists who brought about, as long ago as the last third
of the nineteenth century, universal suffrage, parliamentary government
and freedom of speech, government of the people by the people and for
Nicos C. Alivizatos 73
the people has remained, for at least four long decades, a goal which
appeared unattainable. In the public mind as well as in fact, the crown, the
armed forces and foreign intervention have altered - or at least have been
perceived as having altered - the people's verdict. More than once,
irrespective of the accuracy of this statement, the fact remains that
democratisation and respect for the people's will has been elevated to a
major political demand, perhaps to the demand from the 1930s to the
1970s. Once that demand was achieved, all the rest became trivial. And
for a large portion of the electorate, PASOK's advent to power was
perceived as such.
Deeply-rooted in a national culture which has traditionally privileged
democracy over liberalism and equality over freedom, this attitude has
until now neglected the other fundamental facet of constitutional
government: the need for checks and balances that would prevent the
government majority from becoming abusive. One of the main legacies of
the PASOK era is that, for the first time in modern Greek history, an
important majority of the people seem to be conscious of the necessity
that a government should not only be democratic but should in addition be


1. To take a characteristic example from the Greek labour movement, it is worth

noting that since the return of democracy in 1974, the only one-party
government which tolerated for a reasonable period of time an openly
unfriendly leadership at the head of the General Confederation of Greek
Workers (the OSEE) is Konstantinos Mitsotakis's present Nea Dimokratia
government, which came to power after the April 1990 general election. This
was not the case either with Nea Dimokratia's first term in office from 1974 to
1981, or with PASOK's last period in power from 1985 to 1989, when both
governments used various means, including resort to the courts, in order to
achieve tight control over the country's most important labour union.
2. Maurice Duverger, La nostalgie de !'impuissance (Paris, 1988), pp. 91-115.
Deeply influenced by Karl Popper's widely publicised recent re-definition of
democracy ('Zur Theorie der Demokratie', Der Spiegel, No. 32/1987, pp.
54-5), the French author lauds majoritarian government over consensual
parliamentarism, claiming that while under the former the real choices are
made by the people, under the latter the electorate's verdict is altered, if not
falsified, by professional politicians, namely the deputies. For a comparison of
the two systems, based on empirical research, see Arend Lijphart,
Democracies. Patterns of majoritarian and consensus government in twenty-
one countries (New Haven, 1984) passim.
74 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
3. For a global review of the debate over presidential powers at the time of the
drafting of the 1975 constitution, see Antoine Pantelis, Les grands problemes
de Ia nouvelle constitution hellenique (Paris, 1979), pp. 225-68. See also D. K.
Katsoudas, 'The constitutional framework' in K. Featherstone and D.
Katsoudas (eds), Political Change in Greece before and after the Colonels,
(London, 1987), pp. 14-33.
4. See articles 41.1, 44.2 and 38.2 of the initial version of the 1975 constitution.
For a fairly accurate translation of this text into English see Greek Parliament,
Constitution of Greece (Athens, 1979).
5. Article 30.1 of the 1975 constitution. The term 'regulator' (rythmistis) was
finally used instead of the term 'guarantor' (engyitis) initially proposed, the
latter being closer to the qualification of the French president in article 5 of the
Fifth Republic constitution of 1958.
6. Official Minutes of the Chamber, 7 June 1975, 1094.
7. Official Minutes of the Chamber, 7 June 1975, 1089.
8. Professor Dimitris Tsatsos, who was at the time the general rapporteur for the
opposition on the new constitution, summarised bis criticisms of the majority
view as follows:
[You are trying] to establish a sort of presidential system containing some
elements from the parliamentary model; on the way, however, the latter
disappear [...]. Either we admit that a competitive society [ ...] ultimately
takes the relevant decisions in order to safeguard the existence and unity of
the state and thus we adopt the parliamentary system of government, or we
do not trust that this may happen at the societal level and we seek to
establish the unity of the state at the summit, through the adoption of a legal
construction qualified as a presidential system.
Extract from a speech in the Chamber quoted in D. Tsatsos, Syntagmatiko
dikaio, 2nd edn, i (Athens, 1982), pp. 356-7.
9. All opposition deputies, including 62 from the Enosis Kentrou, 14 from
PASOK and 8 from the two communist parties and EDA abstained from the
last phase of the drafting of the constitution and did not participate in the final
vote of ratification on 7 June 1975.
10. One of the first measures of the socialist government was to grant substantial
salary increases to the armed forces and police personnel, as well as to judges.
See the ministerial decision of 1 December 1981 (sanctioned by Law 1284 of
1982) as well as Laws 1227 and 1234 of 1982.
11. About a month after PASOK's electoral victory of 18 October 1981,
Karamanlis paid an unexpected visit to the headquarters of the Ministry of
National Defence (the so-called Greek Pentagon), where he presided over a
meeting with the chiefs of staff, who were said, at the time, to have refused to
attend when it was initially called by under-secretary Georgios Petsos. It is
worth noting, in this respect, that the leadership of the armed forces was not
replaced by the socialist government until the beginning of 1982.
12. By Law 1285 of 1982. For a brief presentation of these legislative initiatives,
seeN. Alivizatos, Kratiki eXJJusia kai politikoi thesmoi. Synekheia kai allages
ena khrono meta tin anodo tou PASOK stin kyvemisi, offprint from Synkhrona
Themata, 16 February 1983.
13. Takhydromos, 21 October 1982, pp. 14-15; Ta Nea, 2 and 29 November 1982.
14. Karamanlis's sharper public reaction was provoked by PASOK's verbal
attacks against the terms of Greece's entry into the EC in 1981.
Nicos C. Alivizatos 75
15. For a detailed chronicle of the events of March 1985 and of the means -
including the use of coloured ballots at a vote which was supposed to be secret
- that were used in order to ensure the election of Kbristos Sartzetakis, see the
special issue of Dikaio lcai Politild (1985), pp. 9-40; a selection of 58 official
texts of the same period is published in the same issue, pp. 41-314.
16. For a short account of the 198511986 revision of the constitution, see
D. Katsoudas, 'The Constitutional framework', in D. Katsoudas and
K. Featherstone, op. cit., pp. 27-30. For an appraisal of the constitutional
change, see A. Manessis, I syntagmatiki tuUJtheorisi tou 1986 (Thessaloniki,
1989), passim.
17. One may recall Sartzetakis's unexpectedly detailed and widely criticised
refusal to grant a pardon to a homosexual who had spent more than 16 years in
jail for murder (January 1986), as well as his various statements on the cultural
uniqueness of Greece in the contemporary world.
18. The only time this seemed to have happened is immediately after the June
1989 and November 1989 general elections when, due to the failure of a
parliamentary majority to emerge, Sartzetakis's role became important,
especially in view of the complicated provisions of article 37 of the
constitution relating to the appointment of a cabinet. On these occasions,
Sartzetakis's proverbial attachment to constitutional forms did not prevent him
from behaving with subdety and wisdom.
19. In the twentieth century, I would qualify as periods of consensual behaviour
the legislatures of 1912 to 1915 and of 1974 to 1977: the Pbileleftheron
Komma under the leadership of prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos during
the first, and Nea Demokratia under Karamanlis during the second, in spite of
(or perhaps due to) their very large parliamentary majorities, sought, and
sometimes achieved bi-partisan agreements, whenever they initiated major
legislative innovations. This may be the reason why many of these innovations
survived for very long periods after they were introduced.
20. For a short history of the Greek parliament since 1843 seeN. Alivizatos, 'The
difficulties of ''rationalization" in a polarized political system: the Greek
chamber of deputies', in U. Liebert and M. Cotta (eds), Parliament and
Democratic Consolidation in Southern Europe (London, 1990), pp. 132-3.
21. Significandy, since 1974, only once bas a bill originating with the opposition
been passed into law, out of a total of almost 1900 laws which have been voted
by the Chamber up to October 1990.
22. Articles 121-3 of the 1987 standing orders, surprisingly enough, do not
provide for any follow-up procedure to ensure cabinet accountability for the
way the budget is implemented.
23. Especially with the 'questions' and 'interpellations of actuality' which are
discussed twice a week atJhe Chamber's plenum; articles 129-32 and 138 of
the 1987 standing orders.
24. For instance, investigative committees on matters relating to defence and
foreign policy can be established by the Chamber only if the majority, i.e. the
government, agrees (article 68.3 of the constitution). However, even in respect
to committees investigating trivial matters, both Nea Dimokratia and PASOK,
when in office, claimed that, in view of the unclear wording of the same
constitutional provision, a majority vote is necessary for the establishment of
such committees.
25. In fact, it was only under the right/left coalition supporting Tzannis
Tzannetakis's government in 1989 that committees began to function in a
76 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
substantive fashion, as a result of two major amendments to the 1987 standing
orders. These provided, inter alia, for public hearings on pending issues of
major interest, should the opposition submit a relevant request.
26. Since 1975, house speakers have always been viewed and, save for differences
in style, have generally acted as representatives of the majority that elected
27. Especially after PASOK's gradual change of attitude over membership of the
28. Kostas Simitis, Domiki antipolitefsi (Athens, 1979), passim.
29. The latter's tactics in some instances have been a reaction to the blatantly
arrogant and provocative style of PASOK's parliamentary behaviour during
its term in office.
30. This was also due to the attitude of its major component, i.e. the KKE, which
until very recently has failed to elaborate and follow any consistent 'insti-
tutional' policy.
31. For instance, the 1982 rules and regulations ofPASOK's parliamentary group
provided, inter alia, for the prohibition of various initiatives by independent
deputies within or outside the Chamber (including trips and public speeches)
without previous approval from, or notification of, the group's leadership.
32. Law 1303 of 1982. This was superseded in 1989, when the preference vote
was reintroduced by bi-partisan vote.
33. The 1975 standing orders provided that a parliamentary group could be re-
cognised as such and benefit from the relevant privileges if (a) it comprised at
least 15 deputies or (b) it had obtained at least 10 per cent of the popular vote
in the previous general election (article 19). These rules were amended in
1986, and the 1987 standing orders provide either for ten deputies, or for five
deputies representing parties which in the last general election have obtained at
least 3 per cent of the popular vote and have had candidates running for office
in at least two-thirds of the country's constituencies (article 15).
34. John Henry Merryman, The Civil Law Tradition, 2nd edn, (Stanford, 1985), p.
35. See Merryman's distinction between formally and functionally rigid
constitutions, the former having been the rule in the civil law world, while the
archetypal model of the latter is the United States constitution (ibid, p. 135).
For the historical evolution of the two systems see the classic analysis of
Mauro Cappelletti, Judicial Review in the Contemporary World (New York,
1971), pp. 25-43.
36. For the antecedents of judicial review of legislation in Greece and the way it is
practised under the 1975 constitution, see E. Spiliotopoulos, 'Judicial review
oflegislative acts in Greece', Temple Law Quarterly, lvi (1983), pp. 463-502.
37. For a critical approach from the viewpoint of a political scientist, see
Adamantia Pollis, 'The state, the law and human rights in modem Greece',
Human Rights Quarterly, ix (1987), pp. 587-ti14 and especially pp. 602-3.
38. In addition to the nomarchs (provincial governors) and the heads of public
enterprises, who were replaced by persons very close to the new
administration, more than 300 high-ranking civil servants, who in principle
had tenure, and who included 97 general directors, 117 alternate general
directors, 88 educational supervisors, etc., were removed from office through
the abolition of their position by Law 1232 of 1982.
39. Guaranteed by article 16 of the constitution. More precisely, Law 1268 of
1982 on higher education was contested on the grounds that it provided for the
Nicos C. Alivizatos 77
quasi-automatic integration of the old auxiliary teaching personnel into the
fourth grade of the newly-created single teaching body, i.e. with no review of
their qualifications by high-ranking professors.
40. Through Law 1397 of 1983, whose constitutionality was confirmed by
decision No. 400/1986 of the Council of State.
41. Through Law 1386 of 1983, whose constitutionality was confirmed, inrer alia,
by decision No. I 095/1987 of the Council of State.
42. Decision No. 2786/1984 of the Council of State confirmed by verdict No.
30/1985 of the Supreme Special Court of article 100 of the constitution.
Thereby automatic integration of auxiliary teaching personnel into the single
teaching body was declared to be invalid (see note 39 above).
43. See my comments in Vassos M. Rotis, Nomika Keimena. Dikaiosyni kai
syntagma (Athens, 1989), pp. 466-78.
44. Law 1584 of 1986, sanctioning the executive act dated 16 October 1985,
which was upheld by decision No. 2287/1987 of the Council of State.
5 The Left in the 1980s:
Too Little, Too Late
Vasilis Kapetanyannis


It is not easy to talk about the Greek left in the particular context of
political developments in the 1980s. This is for two basic reasons.
Firstly, because that part of the political spectrum traditionally occupied
by the communist left - in the absence of any serious socialist political
tradition - was strongly challenged for the first time in the post-civil
war period by the newly-formed (1974) Panhellenic Socialist Movement
(PASOK). It is certainly true that one can trace many elements of left-
wing radicalism back to the mid-1960s when Andreas Papandreou, a
newcomer to the political stage, became a focus of ideological and
political loyalty on the part of a substantial faction of his father, Georgios
Papandreou' s Enosis Kentrou and by younger elements in the electorate.
However, this radicalism was cut short by the military coup of 1967 and
the establishment of the military regime (1967-74). Left-wing radicalism
not only resurfaced after the fall of the military junta in 1974, strengthen-
ed by various resistance groups, but also acquired a new impetus in the
general mood for fundamental change. Having absorbed, both electorally
and ideologically, the bulk of the centre and centre-left political forces
during the 1970s, PASOK was in a position not only to challenge
effectively the communist left but also the ruling conservative
Nea Dimokratia party by winning by a landslide in the 1981 general
election. 1
It is important also to note that from the point of view of party organisa-
tion, inner-party democracy, methods of political mobilisation and ideology,
its extreme rhetoric (anti-EC, anti-NATO, anti-US, etc.) as well as in re-
spect of its electoral basis, a substantial part of which consisted of ex-
communists and other left-wing voters drawn mainly from the resistance
(1941-44) and civil war (1947-49) periods, PASOK looked like a party of
the left more often than not. However this may be, PASOK sought with
great success to become a vehicle of radical left-wing change and was
strongly identified with the 'anti-rightist' political tradition. Barely one year
into the 1980s PASOK won office in 1981 with an absolute majority in

Vasilis Kapetanyannis 79
parliament. breaking an almost uninterrupted right-wing grip on power of
nearly 40 years. 2
At the beginning of the 1980s the 'left'- both the ruling PASOK and
the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) - commanded a comfortable
parliamentary majority, a social and political majority, and occupied a
dominant ideological position vis-a-vis a defeated and demoralised con-
servative camp that had been reduced in electoral terms to well below 40
per cent of the total vote. In short, one could hardly imagine more
favourable domestic conditions in which to apply and realise the left's
project of social and political reforms that it had propagated for decades.
In a wider European context. PASOK together with other socialist parties
of Southern Europe, dominated the governments of their respective
countries at a time when Northern Europe had shifted to the political right.
During the 1980s the neo-conservatives and neo-liberals who dominated
the ideological and political agenda, as well the terms of reference for the
relevant debates in Northern Europe, were out of office in Southern
Europe. For the sake of understanding the crucial dimension of the 'left' in
Greek politics, and particularly its role in the 1980s, PASOK should rather
be thought of as a 'left-wing' party in the broadest sense of the term,
taking into account its quite distinct features as a political party and
movement in relation to its European socialist counterparts.


PASOK's overwhelming electoral victory in 1981 surprised only those

unwilling to sense the sweeping mood for change that existed in Greek
society. However, winning elections is one thing; governing a country
and/or planning and effecting social reforms is quite another. 3 From an
electoral point of view, PAS OK resembled a catch-all rather than a
modern class-based party. Throughout the decade it remained very much a
party and a movement structured predominantly around the undisputed
and charismatic personality4 of its leader, Andreas Papandreou. The logic
of populism prevailed. Political practice, style and behaviour followed
suit. It is a truism that when PASOK came to power it brought with it its
particular structure, organisational customs and patterns. s Ultimately, any
post-mortem on PASOK's failure in power can hardly avoid questions
arising not only from its own internal organisational structures as a party,
but also from its policies vis-a-vis a changing domestic and international
environment, internal and external constraints, and, last but not least,
80 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
corruption as a by-product of the failure to refonn both party and state
structures. Political and ideological traditions as well as the role of the
charismatic leader contributed to the decay, to a style of government
which alienated intellectuals and substantial sections of the middle classes,
and to a state authoritarianism as the only alternative with which to fill a
vacuum of leadership, policies and political vision. PASOK's apparent
failure and dismal perfonnance in the fields of the economy and foreign
policy should not lead one to underestimate a number of long-overdue
social and institutional changes and refonns that were introduced during
its eight-year rule. These included refonns in family law, higher
education, health and the social security system. However, these refonns
were not financed by sustained economic growth. One can hardly detect
any serious redistribution of income between social groups and
particularly in favour of the lower ones. State consumption was financed
by heavy external borrowing which increased public indebtedness nearly
fourfold during the decade 1980-90 (from $5 billion to $20 billion). The
expansion of the state, the suffocation of the private sector and a statist
mentality and practices, amid adverse international economic conditions,
led to a severe economic crisis in 1985. An EC-funded stabilisation
programme (1986-87) was necessary to restore some confidence and to
signal a return to growth in private investment.
Greece had slipped from being the eleventh economy in the
Community, ahead only of Portugal, to being the last, by the end of
PASOK's decade in office. Its rate of growth in GDP, in tenns of relative
purchasing power parities, actually declined during the 1980s from 58.4
per cent of the Community average to 51.1 per cent. Despite the fact that
net inflows from the EC between 1981 and 1991 amounted to $13.8
billion, not counting a further 4.5 billion ECUs from the European
Investment Bank and the loan of $1.8 billion to support the economy in
1986, Greece has been unable to catch up with the pace of growth and
structural change in other EC member countries. At the end of its second
tenn in office (1989) PASOK left an economy in ruins and public
finances in a state of collapse. It is characteristic that the 1991 budget
projections foresee a sharp reduction in the public sector borrowing
requirement from 16.6 per cent ofGDP in 1990 to 11.3 per cent in 1991.6
The need for massive increases in public revenues by raising indirect
taxes and the prices of all public utilities, as well as securing an EC loan
of about $2.2 billion to relieve a balance of payments crisis and to assist
in stabilising the economy (under EC scrutiny and tutelage), are
indicative of the dire state of the economy.
Vasilis Kapetanyannis 81
Besides, PASOK failed completely to reform an overinflated and
notoriously inefficient public administration. Not only was the public
sector expanded but the bureaucracy was also enlarged with the
addition of more than 100 000 to the public payroll. The state
apparatus was colonised from top to bottom by the party faithful, other
hangers-on and voters in the best Greek traditions of patronage,
clientelism and the distribution of the spoils of power. The phenomenon
of the 'greenguards', who having been appointed to key positions in the
public administration, were keen to promote party policies and to control
the state machinery from within, has been a by-product of the fusion
of party and state. Many party members took governmental positions
or other public posts and the party machine was thrown into some
disarray. Moreover the party was purged in 1985 of dissenting and
discordant voices. Leading party members and trade-unionists were
swiftly expelled because they opposed and publicly criticised government
economic policies. A strict two-year programme of economic stabilisation
(1985-87) seriously undermined the position of the party within the
trade-union movement. Nevertheless, it should be emphasised that no
group that split from PASOK managed to provide any credible
alternative, to shake the party or the cohesion of the government or
managed to have any significant electoral appeal. No prominent party-
member or group had any chance of political survival or of independent
political existence outside the 'fold', or of Papandreou's protective
embrace. 7 It is necessary to understand these aspects of PASOK's
configuration in order better to understand relations between the parties of
the left. Finally, at the beginning of the 1980s a number of other
important factors should be taken into account to place the period of
PASOK rule in a wider political context.

1. The October 1981 elections marked a historic shift in the locus of

power away from the right. It was followed by a remarkably smooth
transition from the Rallis to the Papandreou government. The smooth
alternation of parties in government indicated that the post-1974
democratic institutions formalised by the 1975 constitution had passed
successfully their first major test. The presence of Konstantinos
Karamanlis as head of state not only added weight to the legitimacy of
the process but greatly enhanced the stability of the political system.
2. The armed forces and security services were not involved in the
electoral and political process. Another source of instability within the
political system had thus been removed. 8
82 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
3. Papandreou himself and his party underwent a gradual transformation
from a 'protest movement' to the status of an acceptable political
formation which was to assume governmental responsibilities in 1981.
The neutralist outlook was dropped. On the issue of membership of
the EC, Papandreou abandoned his pre-election demands for a
referendum (the calling of which, in any case, was a prerogative of the
president) on Greece's continued membership. 9 1t is doubtful whether
Papandreou advanced his understanding of the EC much beyond the
'milch cow' perception. However, it is true that, through the
government's memorandum to the EC in 1982, he not only gained
time to adjust to the new conditions but also played his cards well in
securing the Integrated Mediterranean Programmes (IMP), thus
ensuring more capital inflows for development projects. Similarly,
with respect to NATO, Papandreou did not carry out his threats to
withdraw but rather sought to voice his positions loudly. Finally, on
the crucial issue of the maintenance and continued operation of the
American military installations, Papandreou signed in 1983 a new five-
year Defence and Economic Cooperation Agreement (DECA). In
short, a new bi-partisan foreign policy, a consensual approach, began
to emerge, despite PASOK's rhetoric.
4. Greece had already been a full EC member as from 1 January 1981.
This was a fact that PASOK could not ignore.
5. The institutional balance between prime minister and the president of
the Republic was abruptly redressed in favour of the former. In 1985
Papandreou, contrary to all indications, refused to support Karamanlis
for a second consecutive five-year term as president and secured the
election of his own candidate by dubious political and procedural
means, abusing basic written and customary rules. An obstacle to
Papandreou' s ambitions was thus removed but, at the same time,
PASOK lost an easy alibi, that of shifting responsibility somewhere
else. Its power was now more naked than before.
6. PASOK could not resist the temptation to manipulate the country's
electoral system to its advantage. To the dismay of the communist left,
PASOK reneged on its pre-electoral pledge to implement simple PR as
a permanent system. Instead the government introduced through the
back-door a system of reinforced (weighted) proportional representa-
tion. In view of PASOK' s rapidly declining fortunes, for the June 1989
elections the electoral system was manipulated so as to make it nearly
impossible for the first party at the polls to win an absolute majority in
parliament, even a slight one, even if it secured a high percentage of
the total vote.
Vasilis Kapetanyannis 83
7. In both the 1981 and 1985 elections PASOK succeeded in winning an
absolute working parliamentary majority. Apart from the 1985 election
of a new president in parliament, PASOK did not need any parliamen-
tary support from the communist left.
All the above played an important role in shaping a very unstable and
unpredictable relationship between the parties of the left.


No political movement in Greece has shown such endurance and resilience

nor witnessed such dramatic changes in its fortunes as the communists. The
heroic period of the resistance against Nazi occupation during the Second
World War and the ensuing civil war after the liberation (1946-49) has
inexorably marked the postwar development of the communist movement
politically, ideologically and psychologically. Even today the party's
leadership and professional structure continue to be dominated by an
ageing, and out-of-touch, generation whose entire political culture and
practices are imbued by the experiences and ideas of the 1940s.
Communist orthodoxy is deeply rooted in Greek soil and has always
attracted genuine popular support irrespective of the communist party's
(KKE) obvious and persistent subservience towards the Soviet Union.
Indeed it could be argued that such subservience has been more of an asset
than a liability in attracting support and closing ranks. At the same time it
has clearly been an obstacle to its expansion. Loyalty to the Soviet Union,
the 'Motherland of Socialism' was an article of faith, the yardstick against
which 'true' revolutionaries should be measured. Greek communists,
being no exception to the rule, were used as pawns in a chess-game whose
rules they willingly accepted. The communist movement in Greece
represents a tradition very tightly interwoven with the country's modern
political history, particularly during the interwar period and after. In its
European context this tradition is perhaps unique in the sense that in the
absence of any strong socialist or social democratic tradition or even a
powerful and autonomous labour movement in the country, the left of the
political spectrum has always been dominated by the communists.
Neither devastating defeat in the civil war nor the 1968 split in the
party 10 managed to shake communist orthodoxy. The establishment of the
military regime (1967-74) was a catalyst for the communist movement in
many important ways. The 1968 split, which resulted in the formation of a
small but intellectually and morally very influential Euro-communist party
84 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
(the KKE-es or Communist party of the interior), did nothing to force the
orthodox KKE to change course or rethink its policies.
The inter-communist conflict was settled after the fall of the military
junta in 1974, particularly in the 1977 general election when communist
voters opted for orthodoxy and rejected Euro-communist 'renovation' . 11
By the time of the October 1981 elections the battle was over. The Euro-
communists fared badly with 1.34 per cent of the total vote and no seats
in parliament. (Their 5.3 per cent (one MEP) showing in the simultaneous
Euro-elections was a small consolation.) By contrast, the KKE won 10.93
per cent of the vote and 13 seats (out of a total of 300). In the Euro-
elections its 12.7 per cent share of the vote translated into three seats (out
of 24 ). Broadly speaking, both communist parties failed to make any
political capital out of the rapid radicalisation of large urban and rural
sections of the electorate. It was PASOK which reaped the political
benefits by its sweeping victory, shattering the myth that a 'socialist'
movement of such a kind could not emerge in Greece, let alone win
power. Many disillusioned old-timers deserted both parties and opted for
the more realistic choice of voting for PASOK. In the European elections
of June 1984 both the KKE and KKE-interior did rather well by winning
an 11.6 per cent as against a 3.4 per cent share of the vote, and two seats
as against one respectively (out of a total of 24). It is important to note
that during the campaign the KKE muted its criticism of PASOK-
whereas the party's election slogan, 'No to the EEC. Yes to change',
summed up the KKE's philosophy and approach. It is also important to
note that Nea Dimokratia, now under the leadership of Evangelos
A veroff, once more failed to impress the electorate although its share of
the vote rose to 38.1 per cent. On the other hand, PASOK, with 41.6 per
cent of the vote, could claim a marginal increase in its share in
comparison with the 1981 European election. However, it had lost 6.5
per cent in comparison with the 1981 national election. What was more
significant was that PASOK's vote held up better in rural areas/ 2 whereas
the combined vote of both communist parties was not such as to provide
any grounds for assuming a major shift from PASOK to the communist
left. The KKE's marginal gains, in an atmosphere of intense anti-rightist
sentiment, did not alter the balance of power between PASOK and the
The next round of the contest between the parties of the left was fought
in June 1985. The election of Konstantinos Mitsotakis as leader of Nea
Dimokratia in September 1984 had already provoked a strong reaction on
the part of Andreas Papandreou. Two old foes from the sixties were now
heading for another clash, raising the political temperature and sweeping
Vasilis Kapetanyannis 85
to one side the crucial economic and political issues. Personal animosity
orchestrated by the popular press of both sides became the focus of
attention. In these elections, too, the communists failed to advance. The
KKE scored only 9.9 per cent (12 seats) whereas the Eurocommunists
managed to re-elect Leonidas Kyrkos, their leader, with 1.8 per cent of
the total vote. Once more PASOK succeeded in attracting left-wing voters
by exploiting their memories and anti-rightist instincts and by painting a
picture of a vengeful and bloodthirsty right. In these polarised conditions,
a contest between 'light and darkness', as one PASOK minister put it, Nea
Dimokratia was defeated, and PASOK comfortably won a second term in
office with an absolute parliamentary majority.
The electoral results show that the communist left was unable to pick up
the votes of disaffected PASOK left-wingers. The KKE failed to portray
itself as the champion of 'true change' and of outflanking PASOK in left-
wing policies and rhetoric. Despite the KKE's enormous resources and
considerable political influence in all sectors of civil society (trade unions,
student unions, local government and professional organisations), 13 its
electoral stagnation was a matter of great concern. As a matter of fact, the
combined strength of both communist parties was hardly better than its
performance fifty years earlier, during the interwar period. It was obvious
that the communist movement had entered a phase of irreversible
historical decline, a process which could not be arrested or reversed
without deep and major changes and adjustments at all levels, structural,
organisational and in policymaking.
Nevertheless, new opportunities for electoral advances were to present
themselves. In October 1985 the PASOK government introduced a
package of austerity measures designed to save the economy from collapse
and later obtained an EC loan toward that end. Labour reaction had been
vigorous and widespread, and PASOK lost its majority within the 45-
member governing council of the General Confederation of Greek Labour,
when several of its members representing powerful public sector unions
raised objections to the endorsement of the U-turn in economic policy and
aligned themselves with the opposition of the left. Relations between the
KKE and PASOK went from bad to worse and a turning-point was
reached at the local elections held in October 1986. In the two rounds of
voting, the KKE increased the share of municipalities which it controlled
by 10 (53 out of a total of 303). Most importantly, the KKE fired a
warning-shot against PASOK's monopolistic grip on power and arrogance
by failing to support in the second round the PASOK-backed candidates in
the three major municipalities of Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki. That
decision undoubtedly influenced its voters, allowing Nea Dimokratia to
86 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
wrest these cities from incumbent PASOK mayors and thus acquire a new
power basis from which to launch a political offensive against the so-
cialists. KKE tactics further strained relations with PASOK and set them
on a new footing with obvious confrontational elements. PASOK cas-
tigated this behaviour as an 'unholy alliance'.
The relatively successful implementation of the economic stabilisation
programme under the firm, calm and low-profile management of national
economy minister Kostas Simitis came to an abrupt end when Papandreou,
in a new U-turn, relaxed incomes policy for 1988, forcing Simitis to resign
in November 1987. What had been achieved so painfully was now
destroyed in the course of the following years. Finance minister Dimitris
Tsovolas was given a free hand to increase public deficits by satisfying
excessive wage demands. The doors of the government bureaucracy were
flung wide-open to accept tens of thousands of party followers, as the
elections of 1989 approached.
In the meantime PASOK's fortunes had started to decline rapidly.
Papandreou underwent a heart operation at Barefield hospital, outside
London, in September 1988 and returned home in October to face a
growing domestic political crisis and a power-vacuum created by his
absence and ill-health. The 'Koskotas scandal', which had been brewing
for some time, came to a head as the dubious dealings of the ambitious
banker and press baron George Koskotas were revealed by the press. The
government faced strong attacks from the opposition parties for its
handling of the matter, was forced to set up a fact-finding parliamentary
committee to investigate the case and survived a motion of censure in
parliament. However, the time-bomb of the Koskotas affair continued to
tick. The banker, who was wanted for multi-million-dollar embezzlement
and illegal currency transactions, fled the country but was arrested at a
Massachussetts airfield in November 1988. Many prominent PASOK
members and ministers were alleged to be involved in the scandal and the
role of deputy prime minister Agamemnon Koutsogiorgas was given
particular prominence. A series of other scandals erupted. Needless to say,
all these 'scandal cases' became a matter of fierce accusations and
counter-accusations as the popular press of both sides fanned the flames
with venomous personal attacks on political leaders. All weapons were
thrown into the battle as the June 1989 elections approached in a political
climate replete with vengeance, poison, recriminations and mudslinging.
In these circumstances the KKE was careful not to unduly offend the
government, fearing its downfall before a new electoral law was voted,
which was expected to be more favourable to the left; that is to say, more
proportional than the existing one. On the other hand, PASOK dug its
Vasilis Kapetanyannis 87
heels in and left the new electoral law to be debated in, and passed by,
parliament until the last possible moment before the elections.


Meanwhile, in the communist camp, important changes were taking place.

A new political formation, the left Coalition (Synaspismos) was formed by
the KKE and the broadly Eurocommunist Elliniki Aristera. Former
PASOK ministers and other small political groups on the left joined the
coalition. An agreement on principles was published on 8 December 1988.
The coalition's aim was to provide an alternative rallying-point for the
left, to deprive PASOK of its absolute majority in the coming elections
and to exploit any situation resulting from a hung parliament. It believed
that the corruption and mismanagement of the economy, political
opportunism and authoritarian practices to which the ruling party resorted
to fend off rising discontent, provided an ideal opportunity for a political
breakthrough in public and political life. Electoral tactics were adjusted to
that goal. However, the formation of the Coalition signified something
more than a temporary electoral alliance. The inter-communist rift had
come to an end, the ground having been carefully prepared by both sides
during the previous year.
A majority decision of the fourth congress of the KKE-interior held in
Athens in May 1986 had paved the way for the emergence of the new
party on the left. Eurocommunists joined forces with a number of small
left-wing, feminist, ecology and independent groups to hold a congress in
Athens in April 1987, attended by 800 delegates, which gave birth to the
Elliniki Aristera (EAR). The new party, an alternative for disaffected
supporters of both the orthodox KKE and the ruling PASOK, claimed
12 000 founding members, about one-half of whom belonged to the KKE-
interior, while a minority of the latter under former general secretary
Yannis Banias stood firm and refused to join in protest against dropping its
communist identity.
Certainly, the new party did not look like a communist one, for it
seemed not to care for such doctrines as Marxism-Leninism, proletarian
internationalism, democratic centralism and the like. Programmatic
changes, touching sensitive foreign and domestic policy issues for a left-
wing party, provided evidence of a new course. However, from a broader
political perspective, dropping communist nomenclature and identity
removed a substantial obstacle to better relations with the KKE and
rapidly led to rapprochement. In the end, electoral stagnation for so many
88 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
years and rather faint hopes of doing better in the 1989 elections decided
the issue in favour of taking the road towards cooperation with the KKE.
The December 1988 'agreement on principles' was a compromise
negotiated with the KKE under the imperatives of the approaching elec-
toral contest.
The KKE, for its part, held its twelfth party congress, attended by 587
delegates in May 1987. 14 Kharilaos Florakis was re-elected as general
secretary after delivering a ninety-page report to the faithful. Some
discordant voices were heard and rather reluctantly tolerated but, generally
speaking, no coherent opposition to the dominant party-views emerged.
Some cosmetic changes apart, no significant organisational and
programmatic departure from entrenched orthodoxies was observable. The
KKE continued to cherish all the ingredients of a traditional communist
party, still ideologically committed to a highly improbable political
project, whose realisation would tum Greece into an improved version of a
'people's democracy' at best.
Policies were to be pursued through rigid 'class politics' domestically
and by 'two-camp' attitudes in foreign affairs. This twin-track mentality
informed policies and dictated party positions on crucial issues. However,
these permanent features did not deprive the party of the possibility of
developing tactical flexibility and an acute ability to sense the winds of
change in the political scene. Florakis, although on record as saying that
the word 'renewal' sent shivers down his spine, was keen to seek a
coalition with other left-wing forces and thus to break the monopoly of
power enjoyed by the two main political parties. He wanted to change the
rules of the game by introducing the left as a third, regulating factor,
holding the balance between the two main parties.
Papandreou did not miss the message. He rejected the KKE's proposal
for a 'power coalition of left-wing forces for change in a socialist direc-
tion' as a relic of an antiquated 'popular frontist' mentality. 15 He accused
the KKE of forming a 'tactical alliance' with his adversaries, namely the
'right' and the 'reactionary forces', and of making PASOK its first
political target. He called for a substantial ideological and political
confrontation between the two parties, while leaving the door open for
cooperation on other levels.


The general elections of 18 June 1989 produced few surprises for those
who had carefully studied the new electoral law and who had examined
Vasilis Kapetanyannis 89
opinion polls with even greater care. PASOK's share of the vote fell to
39.2 per cent (125 seats), Nea Dimokratia's share rose to 44.3 per cent
(145 seats), while the Synaspismos managed to win 13.1 per cent of the
vote (28 seats), thus holding the balance of power. It was obvious that the
bone of contention was the Synaspismos, which during consultations
between political leaders to form a government, kept its cards very close
to its chest. Florakis, the president of the Synaspismos and Leonidas
Kyrkos, its general secretary, conducted the negotiations skilfully and
played a key role in decision-making. After two weeks of horse-trading, a
conservative-leftist coalition government was formed, designed to carry
out a programme of catharsis, or purging of the financial and
administrative irregularities allegedly perpetrated by PASOK while in
power. To understand why the Synaspismos opted for cooperation with
Nea Dimokratia and rejected a highly generous offer by PASOK of nine
ministries and a long-term relationship in government, one has to take into
account not only an accumulated resentment against PASOK, on account
of the latter's complacency, arrogance, authoritarian practices, and
monopoly of power and the fact that PASOK was steadily eating into the
left's electoral clientele and stealing its ideological clothes, but also other
factors. The issue of catharsis was made central to the political and moral
debate, and the cleaning-up in public life of corruption acquired a quite
dramatic political dimension.
Nevertheless, moral questions apart, the Synaspismos saw it as a golden
opportunity to cripple PASOK before the next elections, which had been
promised for the autumn. A 25-member cabinet was sworn in under
Tzannis Tzannetakis, a Nea Dimokratia backbencher, widely known and
respected for his resistance credentials against the military regime
(1967-74) when he was a naval officer. Four significant ministries were
assigned to the Synaspismos: those of interior, justice, labour and culture.
None of those nominated as ministers by the Synaspismos were members
It was agreed from the outset by the two parties to the coalition that, as
soon as parliamentary procedures were completed with regard to the
investigation into, and determination of, the culpability of PASOK
political figures and the setting-up of a special tribunal, new elections
should be held. For there was little else that the two parties had in
common. They were miles apart on all other issues, including, of course,
the economy. Thus crucial decisions were postponed. In the event,
parliament referred three basic cases of alleged offences by former
PASOK ministers to a special tribunal: the 'Koskotas affair'; a case
involving a PASOK minister and a state-owned company, and allegations
90 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
of phone-tapping. Papandreou himself was one of those referred to the
tribunal. He was subsequently acquitted. The coalition government can
also be credited with bringing about reconciliation between left and right
for the first time since the civil war, and with initiating certain institutional
changes. However, its specific mission and short term of office do not
invite any comprehensive judgement on its overall performance.
Meanwhile PASOK fought back with considerable stamina, aiming
exclusively at the vulnerable electoral basis of the KKE, particularly that
section with the most sensitive anti-rightist reflexes. The leaders of the
Synaspismos, under fire, sought to justify their decision to join the
coalition, to their puzzled supporters and voters. They were clearly on the
defensive and had grossly miscalculated PASOK's solid electoral support
and resilience. It was obvious that the votes won by PASOK in the
European elections held simultaneously on 18 June (35.9 per cent as in the
national election) represented the bottom line of its electoral appeal. 16 At
the same time the Synaspismos share of the vote was only slightly higher
at 14.3 per cent than that in the national elections. The Synaspismos
possessed neither the ideological nor the political means to make serious
inroads against PASOK. It was soon realised that its expectations were
unfounded and unrealistic.
In the November 1989 elections, the left's share of the vote dropped to
11.2 per cent whereas PASOK increased its share to 40.8 per cent, basically
at the expense of the left, and claimed 'a moral and political victory'. Nea
Dimokratia) despite winning 46.2 per cent of the vote and 148 seats, was
still unable to form a government. This time the left's choice was rather
easier since it was clear that the first party (that is, Nea Dimokratia) could
not be excluded from government. Eventually, an 'ecumenical' govern-
ment, under Xenophon Zolotas, a retired banker, was formed with all-party
support. This lasted for some months, until the next elections, those of
April 1990. This time Nea Dimokratia achieved 46.9 per cent of the vote
and 150 seats, still one short of an absolute majority in parliament. The
deputy of a Nea Dimokratia splinter-group, Dimokratiki Ananeosi, was
quick to declare his support for Nea Dimokratia, enabling a government to
be formed. It is significant to note that the Synaspismos, having failed to
shake PASOK, and unable to find common ground with Nea Dimokratia,
was gradually drifting towards cooperation with PASOK. In the April1990
elections, the two parties joined forces in the five single-member electoral
constituencies in an effort to defeat Nea Dimokratia candidates and deprive
it of an overall majority. They almost succeeded. At the end of the day, the
left was back within PASOK's fold and strategic parameters, unable to
articulate its own political discourse or to devise new autonomous
Vasilis Kapetanyannis 91
strategies, tactics and policies. Particularly for the KKE, the devastating
blow of the communist collapse in Eastern Europe had not only taken its
electoral toll, but had also shaken the party to its foundations.


Certain conclusions can be drawn about the state of the left as the country
entered the last decade of this century, with a conservative government in
power after eight years of socialist experimentation and two years of
political instability.
1. PASOK has suffered three successive electoral defeats. Yet it
commands the loyalties of a substantial part of the electorate, and
remains the major opposition party. It is still not in good shape to
conduct an effective opposition and present itself convincingly as an
alternative party of government. Many reforms are needed to steer the
party towards modernisation of its structures and policies. A
substantial part of its electoral base has left-totalitarian, quasi-fascist
leanings. These are reflected in the outlets of the media group, A vriani,
which has vocal supporters both in the party apparatus, in the
parliamentary group, and in the top policy- and decision-making body
(the executive bureau).
2. The Synaspismos is unlikely to survive as it is, barring the emergence
of a deus ex machina which might save it. This is due to the fact that
the major component of the Synaspismos, the KKE, is still controlled
by diehard Stalinists and unreformed communists. The communist left
suffers from real electoral stagnation and political decline. Its only
political option now is to seek cooperation with PASOK, hoping to
share power at some point in the future. Naturally, everything depends
critically on electoral performance.
3. As a whole, the left lost considerable ideological and electoral ground
over the past decade. But it still constitutes a significant force to be
reckoned with, commanding almost 50 per cent of the electorate, a
figure unique in the present European context.
4. On the policy level one may note a more realistic approach on the part
of both parties to some domestic issues. A certain evolution of policy
and a rather slow adaptation is under way. There are still considerable
policy differences between the two parties but a policy of convergence
is gaining ground. However, the more such a convergence becomes
possible the more likely it is to fan antagonism, because each party
92 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
naturally wishes to preserve its own electoral constituency and
demarcation-lines intact. Still the Synaspismos electoral basis remains
the more vulnerable.
5. Today it is more than clear that both parties lack any conception of the
strategic moves necessary to win back voters. They both expect to
profit from mistakes of the government, its natural attrition, and the
expected reaction to the strict and painful austerity economic measures
applied by Nea Dimokratia. There is no alternative vision of society to
propagate against the existing model. Back in 1981, when PASOK
assumed power, the rays of its logo, the 'Green Sun', spilled all over
the left of the political spectrum with high aspirations and
expectations. Eight years later, the overall picture should be
considered as negative despite some positive achievements. The
socialist project failed and the experiment in social engineering has
left the country in ruins: economically, socially, morally and politi-
cally. Both PASOK and the communist left are reluctant to recognise
their own responsibilities for such a spectacular reverse.
The verdict of the electorate in April 1990 elections entrusted Nea
Dimokratia with picking up the pieces and administering bitter medicine.
It still remains to be seen whether it will rise to the challenge and at what
cost. If the price is right then the immediate prospects of the left's
comeback are rather bleak. If not, the way will be wide open for a variety
of political scenarios.


1. See Richard Clogg, Parties and Elections in Greece: The search for legitimacy
(London, 1987).
2. On PASOK, see among others, Vasilis Kapetanyannis, 'I politiki kai theoritiki
simasia tis syzitisis gia to PASOK', in P. Papasarantopoulos (ed.), PASOK kai
Exousia (Thessa1oniki 1980), pp. 295-323. See also Vasilis Kapetanyannis,
'Laikismos: synoptikes simeioseis yia mia kritiki epanexetasi', Politis, 71,
January-March 1986; 'PASOK: giati 39.15%?' in Epikentra, 58, Special Issue
on the June 1989 elections, and 'PASOK: sti dini ton antifaseon' Epilrentra, 62,
Special Issue on the April 1990 elections.
3. See Christos Lyrintzis, 'Between socialism and populism: the rise of the
Panhellenic Socialist Movement', PhD. dissertation, University of London, LSE,
1984; also George Mavrogordatos, The Rise of the Green Sun, Centre for
Contemporary Greek Studies, King's College, 1983.
4. See C. Lyrintzis, 'PASOK in power: the loss of the third road to socialism' in
Tom Gallagher and Allan M. Williams (eds), Southern European Socialism
(Manchester, 1989), pp. 34-54.
5. On the failure of PASOK to reach its (radical) potential and to fulfill its
Vasilis Kapetanyannis 93
promises, from a leftist point of view, see Micbalis Spourdalakis, The Rise of the
Greek Socialist Party (London, 1988).
6. Greece: Country Report 1990, The Economist Intelligence Unit.
7. See J. Petras, 'PASOK in Power', New Left Review, 163, May-June 1987,
pp. 3-25.
8. T. Couloumbis and P. Yannas, 'The stability quotient of Greece's post-1974
democratic institutions', Jou171lJl of Modem Greek Studies (1983), pp. 359-72.
9. Ten years later, Papandreou stated: 'today nobody questions the right choice for
our country in becoming a full member of the EC', Kathimerini, I January 1991.
10. See B. Kapetanyannis, 'The making of Greek Euro-communism', The Political
Quarterly (1979), pp. 445-60.
11. N. Mouzelis, 'On the Greek elections', New Left Review, 108, April 1978, pp.
12. R. Clogg, Parties and Elections in Greece, op. cit, p. 97.
13. V. Kapetanyannis, 'The communists' inK. Featherstone and D. Katsoudas (eds),
Political Change in Greece: Before and after the Colonels (London, 1987), pp.
14. About 80 foreign delegates representing various parties and movements attended
the Congress. The organisers classified party delegates by sex (men 88 per cent,
women 11 per cent); by age (up to 30 years 8 per cent, 31-40 59 per cent, 41-SO
14 per cent, Sl-60 S per cent and 61 and over IS per cent); by party age (before
1940 4 per cent, 1941-SO 12 per cent, 1951-67 7 per cent, 1968-74 20 per cent
and 1974-82 57 per cent); by occupation (wage-earners 53 per cent, agriculture 6
per cent, self-employed 10 per cent, intellectuals 26 per cent, and not working 6
per cent), and by educational qualifications (primary II per cent, secondary 42
per cent, students 4 per cent, university graduates 38 per cent, technical school
graduates 4 per cent). Delegates bad served 1136 years in prison as political
detainees. Sixteen per cent bad participated in the resistance against the Nazis
(1941-44) and 7 per cent in the civil war (1946-49) as members of the
communist 'Democratic Army'.
IS. In his address to PASOK's parliamentary group, 11 June 1987.
16. See V. Kapetanyannis, 'PASOK giati 39.15%'1', Epikentra, 58, 1989.
6 The 1980s in the Looking-
Glass: PASOK and the
Stephanos Pesmazoglou

What follows is just one among several possible accounts. It focuses on

PASOK and the media in the 1980s, i.e. the visible surface, the appearance
of things ...in the looking-glass. What may safely be stated from the start is
that never before in Greek history has the conjunction of word and image
been introduced into everyday politics and exploited to such effect. Such
was the extent and intensity of this that PASOK's attitudes towards most
aspects of public policy - economic, social, educational - and of foreign
policy have not simply been influenced by its slogans and image-building
campaigns, but sometimes dictated by them, and in the end possibly even
undermined by them. It is in this sense that the media provide a privileged
perspective- a room with a view, as it were, overlooking PASOK and its
It is in the media par excellence that we get a precise reflection of the
party's pattern of behaviour towards the various sectors of the state appara-
tus and toward society at large. It is, of course, no accident that what might
otherwise have been taken as evidence of modernity has deeply affected the
very nature of party politics, leading it in directions not necessarily
consistent with modernity. Rather, modernity has been linked with the
rational exploitation, through the media, of the irrationalism of the masses.
If the use of the media played a crucial part in PASOK's drive for
power, and the abuse of them an equally critical role during the period of
its consolidation, the media also proved instrumental in the party's being
ousted from power, albeit under totally unforseeable and exceptional
circumstances. The privileged perspective of the media in helping to
understand political dynamics in the late 1980s is attested by the fact that
all major scandals which plagued PASOK's later years in office were
linked directly or indirectly with the media. In fact, it was precisely the
democratisation of the state-controlled media and the investigation of
political influence in financing activities linked with the manipulation of

*The final text benefited from the critical comments of Grigori Ananiades and
Chrysafis Iordanoglou.
Stephanos Pesmazoglou 95
public opinion, that formed a major raison d'etre of the subsequent
extraordinary right-left coalition government of 1989.
This chapter centres on three themes. The first might be labelled:
'Governing through the nine o'clock evening news'. The second: 'From
radio aphasia to radio days'. The third theme focuses on the press, extends
into a presentation of the interrelationship between two media con-
glomerates and PASOK, highlighting crucial aspects of the Movement's
practices, discourse and ideology.


It is in the 9-to-1 0 evening news that we can best discern official attitudes
towards television. With the exception of major athletic events, the 9-to-1 0
slot has maintained one of the highest TV audience ratings. It should be
noted that, to all intents and purposes, Greece had reached saturation point
in TV sets by 1983 with 94 per cent of households owning one - bringing
Greece to the top of the Mediterranean league in this respect What is even
more important is that the information sector in general, and the 9-to-10
news-slot in particular, was singled out for intense direct government con-
trol, leaving the rest of the programming to the discretion of the two national
channels. State control in broadcasting, whether through a ministerial
council, the prime minister or the president, was, of course, a general trend
all over Europe during the postwar decades. But half-a-century of govern-
mental tutelage in Greek radio broadcasting and 22 years in TV meant that
administration of the media was exercised strictly in loco parentis.
At this point, a short diversion is necessary so as to place PASOK's
attitudes towards broadcasting in their specifically Greek historical
context. The fact that both radio and TV broadcasting were born during
dictatorial and markedly centralist regimes (1936 and 1968 respectively),
taken in conjunction with the concomitant bureaucratisation that still
bedevils the public sector, has left a permanent imprint on the state-
controlled mass media. What has varied is simply the mode of
intervention. The postwar decades of the 1950s and 1960s reflected the
authoritarian conservative parliarnentarism of the period, with all its
characteristically crude anti-communist flavour.
This period was followed by the seven-year military dictatorship, whose
first priority, as in all coups-d'etat, was control of the media. The postwar
legacy included a military-controlled radio station and TV channel,
attracting more than two-thirds of viewers with its popular fare of
American serials and Greek movie melodramas and thrillers. Part of this
96 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
legacy was a mentality of submission and servitude among media
journalists, accustomed to tailoring their accounts to suit the desiderata of
those in power.
When the Nea Dimokratia party was elected to office in 1974, state
prerogative still went unquestioned. Under a new organisational and
institutional set-up, governmental tutelage of the media continued.
Although, strictly speaking, party politics were excluded, the most trivial
government activities of all ministers were reported, whereas any reference
to the opposition was virtually excluded. No wonder that the common
demand of the opposition parties was the 'opening-up' of television. Direct
state control has always meant short-run operational control: economic,
administrative, technical and, in the end, day-to-day political control.
It is within this overall context that PASOK's attitude towards the
media must be seen. Acknowledging the continuity, we have to try to
isolate those traits which specifically characterise the PASOK era. Four
seem to stand out:
1. Broadcasting as a branch of direct governmental activity remained
annexed to a special agency within the Ministry to the Prime Minister
(the ministry overseeing the civil service), the Undersecretariat for
Press and Information. In practice this did not greatly differ from a
PASOK press office. It was the coordinating centre for party
propaganda, with the government spokesman assuming overall
guidance and, in fact, serving as the actual editor of news bulletins.
The government's tone was clearly expressed in mid-term by
Andreas Papandreou himself when three leading officials were obliged
to resign: 'governing bodies in TV have to apply official policy and
not their own. They derive their power from the Ministerial Council
which selected them in confidence. By themselves they represent
nothing and no one' . 1
2. Throughout the grossly over-manned hierarchy and the professional
specialisations within television, a string of favoured party cadres or
supporters were appointed, and where necessary, promoted and used.
Newsreaders 'reporting', discussion coordinators, 'commentators',
journalists conducting staged interviews and even technical operators
and stage managers for very special circumstances - all were serving
only one 'cause' - the promotion of the 'Movement' and of its
'Leader'. At the very top of the hierarchy, the Director-General and
President of ERT (both political appointees) were the most frequently
dismissed functionaries of the state. They were the scapegoats for even
the most trivial 'negative' messages that were transmitted.
Stephanos Pesmazoglou 97
3. A third feature of PASOK's singular dealings with broadcasting were
the means used to control information emanating from the 'box'.
These included censorship, distortion, concealment of opposition party
statements, and carefully-planned blackouts, among other practices.
Individuals (businessmen, politicians, journalists, academics) and
collective entities (unions) were charged, tried and convicted on
television, with no prior warning and with no opportunity to reply in
kind. A lengthy government or party communique followed closely
upon any opposition statement or criticism. It is not possible to detail
the massive evidence of this operation, which belied any claim that
Greece under PASOK was a truly pluralistic society. What can be
asserted here is that all the above practices were routine.
4. There is a Chinese proverb to the effect that 'one good image is worth
1000 words'. PASOK officials in broadcasting applied it ad nauseam.
Anyone switching on TV would have thought that there was but one
'Movement' and but one 'Leader'. In critical periods such practices
were exacerbated and, indeed, in the very last year of the PASOK
government, the whole television apparatus was involved in promoting
the prime minister. Thus, in the name of state control and popular
sovereignty, long-suffering concepts such as objectivity and impar-
tiality were effectively wiped out. Myth and repetitive mystification
were television's central function. The opposition parties and most
serious press analysts characterised government television in PASOK's
last years as 'fascist'. This view was shared by all tendencies of the
right (both populist and moderate) all the main groupings of the left
and by the whole ideological spectrum of intellectuals worthy of that
name. A handful of analysts had already voiced their criticism in the
early years, if not months, of PASOK' s first term in office. But during
its second period in office (after 1985), the intensity and frequency of
these practices increased to a crescendo.


The end of the 1980s was marked by a virtual revolution in the radio
waves. The state monopoly was abolished with the initial invasion of the
FM wave-bands by municipal radio stations, followed soon after by
private radio stations. But to reach this politically decisive moment, a
bitter struggle was fought by the opposition parties against PASOK's
policy, which in the radio sector was much the same as that in the TV
98 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
During the period 1947-74 radio broadcasting reflected faithfully the
crude, aggressive anti-communist ideology of the state apparatus. Even
the transmission of music by leading left-wing composers such as Mikis
Theodorakis and the recitation of poems written by Yiannis Ritsos was
forbidden. There were some shortlived intervals during which the centre
governments of the early 1960s, without abandoning anti-communism,
permitted a more relaxed atmosphere. The seven-year period of absolute
military control (1967-74) was followed by the seven years of the Nea
Dimokratia government (1974-81) during which the mode of radio control
may be characterised as paternalist-authoritarian. As with television,
government activities were the sole subject of the news bulletins.
In the post-1981 era, PASOK's radio policy followed closely its
practices in television. State control was identical with government control,
which translated as party control. No discussions were held on political
issues or on any other sensitive topic. But within this climate of 'radio
aphasia' there was one exceptional transmission widely heard every
Sunday at noon. It was the distinctive, coarse voice of the eminent jour-
nalist, Maria Rezan, who organised the only structured, free-ranging inter-
views in which she cornered leading political figures, including the prime
minister himself. Having previously been dismissed by Nea Dimokratia,
she was again obliged to resign by PASOK after a fierce, orchestrated
attack by the government press following a transmission on the state of the
mass media. The use of the term 'fascist' by most of the five discussants
(but not Rezan herself) to describe the nature of control over the television
and radio led to a well-coordinated and defamatory personal attack. She
was accused of being an 'agent' of the right and of the Americans and of
being a Jewess. It was an attack with multiple intentions: not just to silence
the only free transmission on the radio waves, but also to frighten off other
journalists in broadcasting (and the press).
The overall feeling, as echoed in the wide press-coverage after the
Rezan episode, was one of 'suffocation'. The incident, which occurred in
1984, is characteristic of PASOK's practices and underlying mentality at
the end of its first term in power. On the eve of the 1985 general elections
and the 1986 municipal elections, the situation deteriorated dramatically,
with radio transmissions following the TV pattern.


But how, in view of all the above, did the liberalised state of Greek radio
come about just two years later, at the beginning of 1987? ERT had by this
Stephanos Pesmazoglou 99
time accumulated a half-century-long tradition of state monopoly which
had been challenged only by external broadcasts, such as those of the BBC
and Deutsche Welle, mainly during 1940-44 and 1967-74, the periods of
the German occupation and the military junta.
The final legalisation of non-state radio stations can be attributed to
several factors:
1. Changes took place in the overall climate within the opposition ranks.
On the one hand, there is the volte face on the part of Nea Dimokratia.
From being traditionally etatist, the conservatives turned into
thoroughgoing liberals - not only in their economic and political philo-
sophy but also in their attitude towards the media. On the other hand,
the left, especially the KKE, although uneasy with the notion of
'private', went along with the idea of 'municipal'. Both right and left
were driven, above all, by the necessity to resist PASOK's aggressive
use of the media.
2. A major political development that prompted the establishment of
independent radio stations was the sweeping victory of the Nea
Dimokratia candidates in the 1986 municipal elections in the three
major cities of Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki. They had all pledged
their support for free municipal radio stations and their first political
act was to move while riding the wave of discontent.
3. After some fierce factional in-fighting, the PASOK government
decided to retreat and legalise municipal radio stations but only under
severe and concerted pressure from the opposition, left and right, and
in the face of imminent transmissions by stations in the three major
cities. Thus, a new era in radio began in the first months of 1987 with
the municipal radio station, Athina 9. 84, at the forefront, to be
followed by a cluster of municipal and, later, private radio stations.
They were to reach their peak by the end of 1988 and the pre-electoral
months of 1989. Initially a success-story both in terms of audience and
profits, they were to reach by 1990 a national grand total of 660 radio
stations, of which 66 were in the greater Athens area alone. There is no
doubt that, politically, they played an initially central role in PASOK's
subsequent defeat, by informing and taking a critical stand.
As expected, the government's reaction, though spasmodic, was
immediate. Serious and repeated attempts were made by the police, in
conjunction with the director of Telecommunications Services, to disrupt
the most 'offensive' stations. By this time, both the government and the
prime minister himself were fully on the defensive, accused of involve-
ment in a series of grave scandals. It was at this juncture that PASOK
100 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
backed the transmission of Radio Athina, the radio station of the leading
newspaper group supporting PASOK (Avriani), as a means of defending
itself by counter-attacking with a continuous 24-hour-a-day mud-slinging
campaign against all opposition leaders.


'Ef-Em' was on the lips of most Greeks by the end of the 1980s: a sug-
gestion of its potential as a means of resisting highly authoritarian prac-
tices. FM radio created a new political situation. Greek radio rapidly
reached the point of saturation in terms of the number of stations.
Moreover, commercial radio means fierce competition for the greatest
share of publicity revenues, hence audience maximisation and relative
programme ratings. All this (and always in the name of pluralism) leads to
uniformity, imitation and downgrading of the language. In the name of the
'new', the 'different' and the 'unique', a single model is followed: top ten
hits to capture a good section of the young audience, pseudo-satire
coupled with irony, news flashes, stereotyped entertainment menus, and,
of course, sports news. This is the picture emerging from the commercial
stations. As for the municipal and party-controlled radio stations,
pluralism has meant multi-dependency on city-councillors and party
officials. All these elements of triviality, silliness, vulgarity and aggres-
siveness were there from the moment competition became fierce. They
reached their climax in the period when radio lost its political raison


Preoccupation with television often causes another important communica-

tion channel, the press, to be overlooked. But as it is highly instructive in
understanding PASOK's practices and ideology, we point to some of the
basic trends in the overall circulation of national dailies and their break-
down by party political affiliation. We then examine some particular
developments within the pro-government cluster of papers, as well as the
means and policies used by PASOK to influence or control newspapers.
This necessarily leads our analysis to the major scandals linked with the
media and to the role played by one specific group in moulding and/or
reflecting the Movement's ideology and propaganda and thus its overall
Stephanos Pesmazoglou 101
Until 1936, newspapers were the only communication medium
available in Greece. Given the absolute state control of broadcasting ever
since, the dailies remained the only medium of expression available to
critical voices and opposition parties in those periods not plagued by
censorship or self-censorship. 2 Furthermore, although their readership is
only a fraction (one-fifth to one-seventh) of broadcasting audiences,
national newspapers influence opinion-makers all over the country, and, in
particular, those journalists working for local papers and regional radio
stations. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the press remained
throughout the 1980s a political and economic battlefield, despite the great
expansion of the mass media.
During the 1980s there have been major developments affecting
production conditions in the newspaper industry that have decisively
shaped the present-day scene. (a) Technological developments turned
nearly all dailies into tabloids. (b) In terms of ownership and control, there
has been a thunderous and boisterous entry on to the scene of building
contractors, oil tycoons, shipowners and bankers, displacing, without
totally eliminating, traditional newspaper proprietors. Most, if not all, soon
thereafter expanded into broadcasting. (c) The finances of most papers are
more and more dependent on advertising when they are not supplemented
by the proprietor's other resources.
To what extent have these developments been reflected in circulation
trends? Between 1980 and 1989 there has been an increase in the total
readership of one-third, most of it absorbed by three evening papers first
published during the last decade. 3 Despite this overall expansion, morning
papers declined sharply, whereas evening papers doubled their circulation.
Evening newspaper readership, in contrast to morning, was somewhat
more evenly spread outside the Greater Athens area.
In terms of political affiliation, the proportion of papers supporting Nea
Dimokratia declined (from 36 per cent in 1980 to 33 per cent in 1989),
with a consequent radical alteration in their profile. Following the
assassinations by the terrorist organisation '17th November' of G.
Athanasiadis, publisher of Vradyni (1983), and of N. Mompheratos, pub-
lisher of Apoyevmatini (1985) and with the purchase of Kathimerini (1987)
and Vradyni (1988) by the Koskotas group, the mosaic formed by papers
supporting Nea Dimokratia had gone to pieces by 1988. (One exception
was the flourishing populist paper of the right, Eleftheros Typos.)
The slight rise in the proportion of dailies supporting the left is
attributable to Proti, a daily evening newcomer. (The sharp fall in the
normally minimal circulation levels of Avgi, the paper supporting the
Euro-communist party, reflects the split of 1987.) The papers supporting
102 Greece, 1981--89: The Populist Decade
PASOK steadily retained the highest proportion of circulation except for
the years 1988-89. Nevertheless, after an initial record 60 per cent the
figure remained above 50 per cent up to 1987, when the shift to relative
independence of two of the dailies supporting it brought the ratio to its
lowest. The actual number of papers that supported PASOK during the
decade reached fifteen - nearly double the number supporting Nea
Dimokratia. These amounted to a veritable armada - despite their fragile
structures which frequently led to their foundering. Within the PASOK
cluster of papers one can notice the radically changed structure of
allegiances. If we examine the ownership of those dailies supporting
PASOK, the following picture emerges.
(a) The Lambrakis group, owning two papers at the beginning of the
decade (1980) held a hegemonic near-60 per cent of the PASOK market.
This percentage subsequently fell drastically to 45 per cent in 1981 (due
mainly to the tumultuous entry of Ethnos) and further to 39 per cent in
1982. In 1983, with the closing-down of the loss-making morning paper
To Vima, the Lambrakis share of the market fell to 28 per cent. This rating
deteriorated over the next three years despite an attempt to revitalise To
Vima (1984-85). The long tradition of this paper- among the few quality
dailies - led to protracted debates as to the viability of the morning press.
(b) The second major grouping is the one initiated by the Kouris
group, which over the decade moved into a position of dominance
among the papers supporting PASOK. In 1980 it owned one paper,
Avriani, with 11 per cent of the PASOK readership. By 1989 it owned
three papers accounting for 46 per cent. The rising importance of this
group in terms of circulation, along with its singular role in PASOK's
propaganda and ideology, necessitates further examination.
(c) Eleftherotypia and Ethnos, although not constituting a common
concern (on the contrary, they are fierce rivals), are grouped together
since, after attracting an important share of the PASOK readership, both
moved in 1987 to a position of relative independence.
(d) Within a last category we group together various efforts by
PASOK to publish highly-dependent papers. In fact the most sustained
of these are linked with the Popotas scandal (Popotas was the publisher
of Eleftheri Gnomi and Eidiseis, 1983-84), and with the Koskotas
scandal (Koskotas was the owner and publisher of 24 Ores, 1986-89).
Developments in the pattern of circulation, in technology and in the
financing of the press were not, of course, without political implications.
PASOK's practices can be looked at within the context of state policies
aimed at conditioning the circumstances surrounding the functioning of
Stephanos Pesmazoglou 103
newspapers. There is a whole panoply of measures inherited from the past
which can be used to influence the press and ultimately exert indirect
control. Most of these measures involve selective reward and punishment,
especially during critical periods.
They include: 4 (a) The use of secret funds, either those of the Ministry
to the Presidency or of the state-controlled banks, to subsidise the friendly
press. These possibilities were, on paper, abolished during PASOK's first
term in office, but in practice were simply replaced by successive attempts
to back financially compliant publishing operations. (b) The granting of
favours to friendly papers through public corporations and banks,
including systematic preferential advertising. (c) A third, albeit indirect
tactic, that of allowing selective 'leaks' to specific papers. In all the above,
it is crucial to realise that a range of privileges linked with the party in
power and an additional web of interrelations with exogenous economic
activities may well serve to limit criticism. The leadership of PASOK was
fully conscious of the whole spectrum of each individual publisher's
problems and needs so as to use all the means at its disposal as a lever to
influence and, if possible, to control the press. This was a sustained effort,
beginning in the very early years of PASOK's first term in office, and
continued, with ups and downs, throughout the years leading to the
eruption of the major scandal in 1988.5 The existing mass of evidence is
often bewildering and continuing judicial investigations do not allow a
more concrete and definitive view of a most intricate and obscure story.
Nevertheless, precisely because of its importance in understanding
PASOK' s attitude towards the media, the following interpretive schema
can be advanced.
Essentially, the emerging picture highlights four parallel and
complementary processes activated by PASOK's leading officials (on
more than one occasion: 1983, 1984 and 1986-88). (1) Public funds
directly or indirectly misappropriated in order to make inroads in the
press. (2) Support by segments of the state apparatus for the build-up of
publishing enterprises. (3) Party functionaries and journalists holding the
leading management posts. (4) Political coverage offered or promised at
the highest ministerial level.
It is this sort of practice which led an overwhelming conservative-left
majority in parliament to set up an extraordinary court in 1989. The
Koskotas group's activities in the press business involved three dailies-
one newly-issued and two rescued Nea Dimokratia papers. The latter,
however, formally kept their allegiances, while in effect minimising
criticism of PASOK's leader and his family. Furthermore, through the
Bank of Crete, loans were advanced to two more papers of the left. The
104 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
whole enterprise was encouraged to make inroads into the opposition press
through illegal use of funds. (To give a full account of the Koskotas
empire we must add six magazines, one radio station operating in 1988
and preparations for a television channel.)
The resulting picture is that of a gigantic pincer-movement engulfing
the widest spectrum of the press. We are not faced with the case of a press
tycoon of the sort of a Maxwell or a Murdoch in Britain, a Hersant in
France, or a Berlusconi in Italy. Koskotas was no Citizen Kane. The far
more important element, making all the difference, is not the megalomania
of one man but the political will which allowed the anomie that gave birth
to, and fostered, the whole enterprise.


It was from within the pro-government press that the scandal was
revealed. This is an important turning-point in the history of PASOK's
relations with its friendly press. By 1987, all of the large circulation papers
whose fanatical support of Allagi (change) had contributed to the
Movement's electoral victory in 1981, and which had continued to
eulogise it after the elections, had turned against it. For their interests had
been threatened by a bullish newcomer fully supported by PASOK's
leadership and backed by a dynamically expanding bank. Ethnos,
Eleftherotypia and to an extent, Ta Nea, were drained of some of their
best journalists by salaries well above the normal. They had to compete
with one of the most modern printing installations in Europe, supported by
uninterrupted cash flows. Competition had become tantamount to a
struggle for life or death. Publishers spanning the entire political spectrum
united and replied dynamically, demanding transparency in press and bank
dealings. The main reasons for this volte-face were not political or
ideological, but economic. It coincided, nevertheless, with the months
following PASOK's defeat in the 1986 municipal elections; a general
climate of malaise which was perceived by, and thus reflected in, those
papers seeking to improve their circulation. 6 One of the indirect effects
was the reinforcement of the tendency for newspapers to move away from
close direct links with specific parties or leading cadres towards support
for a broader political space, in accordance with the traditional cleavage
between broadly 'conservative' and 'progressive' forces.
PASOK's policy towards the press can be summarised as follows:
monopolistic control of the most massive medium, television, and of the
national radio stations, was not regarded as sufficient. The insecurity of its
Stephanos Pesmazoglou 105
leader vis-a-vis traditional publishers led PASOK from the very early
years of its ascent to power to attempt direct control of the press using all
means at its disposal.


A separate examination of the Kouris group of papers is vital to

understanding crucial aspects of PASOK's behaviour, propaganda and
ideology. In fact the backbone of PASOK's populism has come to be
known as Avrianismos, after the name of the main evening daily of this
multi-media group. The main facts associated with the Kouris group are
the following: (a) In 1980 it was represented by one daily and accounted
for 10 per cent of PASOK's readership. By 1989 it owned four dailies
(representing nearly 50 per cent of the PASOK readership}, three
weeklies, two radio stations and one TV channel. (b) The group seems to
have established an increasingly complex web of interrelations with the
government, leading to decisions favourable to its interests. (c) State
mechanisms and, in particular, intelligence services seem to have been
constantly providing it with special facilities and an almost daily flow of
crucial information on the private and professional lives of political
opponents. (d) Leading journalists and managers of the group held at times
various positions within the state-controlled mass media. (For example,
the last PASOK-appointed governor of the Public Broadcasting
Corporation was, by 1990, directing the Kouris group's Channel29.
Finally, governmental backing at the highest level intensified over time,
especially during the hard days after the explosion of the Koskotas
scandal. In fact, during the pre-electoral battles of June 1989, October
1989 and April 1990, all leading PASOK officials, ex-ministers and
candidates appeared on Channel29. This hit-parade testifies that the group
had become of central importance to the Movement.
In view of this, it is impossible to come to terms with PASOK's
ideological discourse without paying due attention to the phenomenon of
Avrianismos. There has been no systematic study, to my knowledge, of
Avrianismos, its ideology, its social synthesis as a movement or the very
specific configuration of its linkages with PASOK and the state
mechanisms, in particular the intelligence services. Therefore, our
observations cannot be conclusive. What has been stated and what follows
cannot but be a sketchy overall impression of the phenomenon. Avriani
and the rest of the flotilla of Kouris papers address themselves to the poor
and the underprivileged. With a minimal price (one-half to one-third lower
106 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
than the other dailies), six to eight pages, low-quality paper and
typography, and using low-paid, non-professional journalists (with the
exception of the propaganda analysts), they represent a debasement of
journalism. The papers are hung next to the rest at the kiosks, resembling
little more than political posters decked out as newspapers. What the
publishers of this group have well assimilated is that shorthand speech-
patterns spread fast, far and wide: adjectives, mud, calumnies and scandals
are diffused instantly, with no possibility of reply. (This multiplier effect
is easily perceived in coffee-shop discussions all over Greece.) Avriani
played a role complementary to that of TV: it supplied additional 'infor-
mation' and arguments to supplement official broadcast propaganda and/or
prepare regional and village party cadres for policy changes.
The style of the Avriani press and its essence are exemplified in its
front-page headlines. We give some inductive examples drawn from the
pre-election periods of 1981, 1985 and June 1989.
1981: 'These are some of the robberies ofNea Dimokratia'
'Kyrkos and the Americans... ' (insinuating that the leader of the
Euro-communist party is a CIA agent)
'With whose money did Mr Karamanlis live in Paris for 14
1985: The whole electoral campaign was fought with front-page headlines
and assorted photographs dealing with a fabricated story about the alleged
Nazi past of the opposition leader, Konstantinos Mitsotakis. In fact, five
years later, in May 1990, in an intra-PASOK row, Avriani disclosed that
the allegedly incriminating photograph had been passed on by a 'left-
moderniser' member of the Executive Committee of PASOK). Headlines
ran as follows:
'Mitsotakis: man of the Nazis'
'The tall one (i.e. Mitsotakis) was in the pay of the Nazis'.
1989 June-November: (pre-electoral months)
'Florakis (General Secretary of the Communist Party (KKE) for
two decades) owns a yacht'
'Damanaki (Parliamentary spokesman of the Communist left) is
building a lavish villa' (a recurrent theme).
One could go on endlessly, since scarcely a day passes without such
material. It is generally true the world over that newspaper endorsement is
a direct message which appears to reduce the confusing arguments of the
campaign to a single conclusion. But in the case of the Avriani group,
words were employed not as bridges extended to the mind of the reader
and listener, but as harpoons to be embedded in their subconscious.
Stephanos Pesmazoglou 107
Primitive prejudices were appealed to, designed to kindle hatred in all
directions. Superficially anti-right, anti-American, anti-imperialist, anti-
capitalist, it employs all the traditional jargon of the left. Simultaneously a
thoroughgoing anti-leftism prevails.
Hatred is also directed against minorities such as striking trade unions
and intellectuals (individually or collectively). There is no occasion where
criticism of the PASOK regime voiced in an article or petition has not
been met with insults and streams of coarse invective. Racial minorities
hardly escape. After all, the demarcation line between anti-imperialism
and national chauvinism is thin, especially if one adds all the necessary
ingredients of xenophobia. Racism and anti-semitism stand in the next
comer. By way of illustration: the day after Time magazine ran its cover
story on 'The looting of Greece', containing Koskotas's allegations about
Papandreou, the Kouris scapegoat is three in one: 'JEWS-CIA-
MITSOTAKIS organized the new plot against the leader'. 7
Finally, revulsion towards democratic institutions was cultivated since,
according to the ideology of Avrianismos, all public persons steal and lie
and act solely on the basis of strictly personal interests. After all, 'there are
no institutions, there is only the people' according to the Leader's dictum.
A decade ago, in 1981, a lexicographical content analysis of Avriani led
me to the following concluding remark: 'If there is one historical analogy
with a daily paper, it will surely have to be with the organ of the National-
Socialist party, Volkische Beobachter, which was incessantly scandal-
mongering against the 'rotten' bourgeois class and the Weimar Republic,
on the very eve of the latter's dissolution in 1933.' 8 I now think that a
systematic, in-depth analysis of Avrianismos might well lead to similar
conclusions: the lexical corpus of Avrianismos is certainly neither simply
populist nor vulgar. Avrianismos has been, and is, a neo-fascist phenom-
enon drawing from all the elements of a society in crisis. What is more
difficult to estimate is the relative weight of its farcical elements and its
relevance and real importance to PASOK supporters.


The leadership of PASOK has proved to be media-conscious in the

extreme. Political strategy was, in effect, tantamount to media strategy.
The whole period it was in power can be perceived as a sustained drive
towards more intensive and extensive control of the media. Control of the
media and control of mass organisations were parallel operations.
Elements of continuity with the past are bound to be present, affinities
108 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
with other contemporary countries and governments as well - along with
aspects of discontinuity or even rupture. Nevertheless, there was no real
media strategy, as there was no plan or strategy for any of the crucial
domains of Greek society and polity. There was only the overwhelming
preoccupation with further consolidating, enlarging and reproducing
PASOK's grasp of power, and concentrating it in one person- that of the
A dirigiste hypertrophic state is usually linked to an atrophied civil
society. State control is supplemented by party control which, in turn, is
supplemented by the Leader's control. There are no intermediate
autonomous, self-regulating institutions. And in this sense the sphere of
broadcasting well reflects the texture of state-society relations.
Beyond universal tendencies towards media concentration and control-
through refined 'legal' means and tactics - the scene in Greece by the end
of the decade took on the appearance of a Balkan-East Mediterranean
brand of the Wild West: politics, soccer and banking all inextricably
intermingled with the media. The state of affairs during the 1980s tended
to exemplify the even greater vulnerability of media systems in most
peripheral countries to bribery and corruption by politico-economic
interests and also a widespread intolerance of media independence and
initiative, especially during periods of government insecurity.
Under PASOK, the governing bodies of broadcasting corporations
made no particular effort to claim impartiality. In the name of the
majority, any policy might be legitimised. There was no effort to create a
consensus, an attitude that reflects PASOK's posture towards all state
institutions. 'Agenda-setting', considered in communication literature as a
crucial TV function, was not even a matter internal to the public
corporation; it was in effect the Movement's prerogative- at least for the
news zones and the information sector. Of course, beyond the manifestly
political messages, there are the more diffuse but possibly equally
pervasive ideological implications of other media vehicles. (For example,
cultural and historical films reshaping modern Greek history so as to link
all popular movements with PASOK: the 1821 War of Independence,
interwar Venizelism, the peasant uprising of Kileler, BAM-National
Resistance in the 1940s, the Polytechnic uprising in 1973 - all were
unilinearly linked with PASOK.) Broadcasting thus functioned as an agent
for reinforcing PASOK ideology and for the collective self-affirmation of
its followers.
For PASOK the mediawas a subdued, passive transmitter. Within this
'amplification spiral' we get predetermined dramatisation& and min-
imisation&. The media did not and could not reflect a multifaceted reality,
Stephanos Pesmazoglou 109
but it did reflect premeditated distortions, i.e. a mirror of PASOK' s reality.
What were the working assumptions which guided PASOK's use of the
public media? Bluntly put, these can be summarised as follows:
A profound and generalised ignorance on the part of the audience was
assumed, coupled with the belief that the Greeks, after all, quickly forget
what has been said from one transmission to the next - even more so than
in the rest of the world.
PASOK' s leadership seemed to have a clear idea of the means by which
the media could be made an influential instrument in moulding people's
views and attitudes. Four main tactics may be cited which enhanced the
power of the spoken word- to a very disturbing degree: (1) monopolisa-
tion of the communication networks; (2) repetition; (3) spectacle and,
above all, (4) the efficacy of one voice re-echoing throughout an entire
organisation and transmitted in condensed form through TV and the other
media. All in all, this was a very effective instrument.
In an age amenable to manichean politics, and in the context of an
ideology of 'them and us' reinforced by the media, the entire image was
created on the basis of a set of very simple formulations. People require an
Enemy and a Goal. Polarised antithetical politics blur all issues. Thus, a
consistent principle of the utmost importance in PASOK's propagandistic
warfare, and one which was not well-assimilated by rival parties, was to
have one, and only one, common enemy at any one time. The existence of
various enemies creates doubts among followers. The single enemy was
well-defined: in the social realm it was the privileged or 'the
Establishment'; in politics it was the right (the left was criticised only for
its divisive role in combating the right); internationally the US, the CIA,
NATO and, at one time, the EC played this role. In fact, the Leader's pet
theory, whenever he found himself in serious trouble, was that this could
not but be the result of an 'international plot' undertaken by 'foreigners' in
collaboration with their domestic 'servants' or 'apostates'. Additional
striking elements are the timing and recurrence of appeals to the nation
during hard times for the economy, budgetary debate, social strife, but
never in the summer or other dormant periods.
The substance of PASOK's propaganda as reflected in the media,
primarily the 'box', revolved around two or three complementary themes.
Such rallying media themes have been: the underprivileged, the
Movement and, above all, its Leader and his internationally important role
in shaping the destiny of Europe (during the six-month EC presidency of
Greece) and of the world (in the peace initiative of the Six, which it was
suggested, opened the way to the Malta agreement and the Reagan-
Gorbachev rapprochement). ('Peace', in fact, was an excellent idea, since
110 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
it cannot be contested. All people are, after all, peace-lovers. Hence, a
constant flow of peace-speech and peace-'initiatives'.) A small, poor and
historically dependent country could at last have a sense of pride and
national dignity. In fact it was an honour for every single individual to
have such a prime minister. Exploitation of such feelings was intensive:
international meetings (EC and NATO councils) ended with victory
communiques based on some minor disagreement in what has come to be
labelled as a 'footnote policy'. For example, the very moment the
agreement was signed for US bases to remain in Greece, the patriotic
drums were beating loudly: 'At last US bases out of Greece'. This was an
artificial but convincing inversion of Greece's permanent self-image as
inferior in its relationship with Western Europe. In the words of one of the
ministers convicted as a result of the scandals, the Northern Europeans
were 'eating nuts when we were building the Parthenon'.
National pride was well-matched with the systematically-transmitted
ideas of 'equality' and 'justice'. The audience had to be convinced and
then reassured that the Movement was dealing with all domestic issues of
immediate concern to various segments of society, vigorously fighting
against intermediaries, rentiers, merchants, in fact all those responsible for
unreasonably high prices. Public health and education are 'public', hence
they carry electoral weight; private hospitals and schools were portrayed
as solely responsible for the sorry state of affairs. In actual fact, the cost of
living went up and real wages slightly down, while private hospitals,
schools and other institutions thrived. For what really mattered to the
regime's polity was just the image of things and the extent to which it
could convincingly project them and, ultimately, substitute them for
reality. In foreign policy, in the health service, in education, it was not the
actual study and solution of problems that was its main preoccupation, but
rather the gestures, projected on, and magnified through, the nine o'clock
news, the radio waves and the front-page headlines. The eight-year show
had but one protagonist, the prime minister, in the shadow of whom
ministers, members of parliament and party officials lingered. Vile
antagonists are present on the stage, but are systematically denigrated.
'Reading' the media means decoding the Movement's propaganda and
ideology. Abuse of power followed a path parallel with that of misuse of
language. Destroying the texture of reality and re-constituting it verbally
passed through the stage of the effective disarticulation of key terms such
as 'the people', 'democracy', 'independence' and 'socialism'. In this
struggle over meaning, the left was found offside. In fact, it may be said in
retrospect, that the left allowed the uninhibited and sustained 'recycling'
of its vocabulary, the 're-employment' of its visual symbols and the
Stephanos Pesmazoglou 111
'redeployment' of its slogans. It was as if the left was not conscious that
altogether different political actors, with different agendas and certainly
different ends in mind, were superficially using its arsenal through the
kind of mass media that had not been at the left's disposal for decades.
We manifestly have all necessary ingredients of a populist phenomenon.
As a description, the term is by now widely accepted, albeit misused by
most political scientists, and even by leading PASOK officials. In the early
1980s, only a handful were prepared to use the term. 9 But as it covers a
wide range of political phenomena, what matters is the delineation of the
specific hybrid, particularly in a period when all sorts of new combinations
are emerging in Balkan and East European countries, e.g. nationalists of
the left, socialists of the right. In the context of this chapter, it may
confidently be said that PASOK's discourse as amplified by the media can
hardly be differentiated from the current of Avrianismos. Avriani's field of
discourse was cultivated by the Movement and was based on the
fragmentary reconstruction of a language springing from a mixture of
traditional nationalistic sentiments and of traditional leftist vocabulary and
slogans, all intermingled with 'third worldist' terminology - a limited
repertoire of words running the gamut from taunts to slogans.
Avrianismos arose as an opportunistic, spontaneous ideology reflecting
immediate needs, with all the farcical elements typical of various trends
within modem Greek political culture in a period of artificial and non-
sustainable expansion in incomes. Whether this phenomenon will retain its
influence or even lead to the creation of a solid movement under the
imminent conditions of economic austerity, social discontent and national
malaise remains an open question. The media landscape has of course
changed, with a plethora of TV channels and radio frequencies in addition
to the numerous dailies. But these exceed by far what society can afford,
while falling below any acceptable standard. Within this seriously
degraded communication environment, institutional devices are not
enough to prevent the airwaves from being hijacked by interests expressed
by a debased discourse, and possibly exploited by media-effective
demagogues of a populist mix, well-suited to the new circumstances.


1. To Vima, 26 November 1984, quoted in Nikos Alivizatos, Kratos kai

Radiotileorasi (Athens, 1986), p. 38.
2. For a detailed account of the junta period, see Robert MacDonald, Pillar and
Tinder-Box: The Greek press and the dictatorship (London, 1983) and
'Athenian' (Rodis Roufos),/nside the Colonels' Greece (London, 1972).
112 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
3. According to some estimates, Greece is the richest country in the EC in terms of
the number of newspapers in circulation, but the poorest in terms of readership,
along with the other Southern European members.
4. For a more detailed account of state practices towards the press see N. I.
Kyriazidis, 'Ta oikonomika tou typou', in the special issue of Anti on the press
and the mass media, 24 July 1986, pp. 31-6. For a view on government
interference in the 1950s and 1960s, see Keith R. Legg, Politics in Modern
Greece, (Stanford, 1969), pp. 110-13. For the 1970s and early 1980s, see
Alivizatos (1986) and Dimitrios Katsoudas, 'Greece: a politically-controlled,
state monopoly broadcasting system', West European Politics (1985), pp.
5. A. Popotas, in his testimony to the prosecution authorities, gives an account of
all the efforts and associated illegal practices used for the publication of two
PASOK papers. (The story goes as far back as November 1982 and ends with his
imprisonment in 1985.) See Eleftherotypia, 12 November 1988.
6. For the background of PASOK's relations with the press, see Lykourgos
Kominis I Krisi tou Ellinikou Typou (Athens, 1985). A detailed account of the
positions taken by the papers Eleftherotypia, Ethnos and Nea in the 1988-89
period can be found in Athanasia Biska, The Press and Politics during the
Socialist Administration, MA thesis, City University, London, 1989.
7. Dimokratikos Logos, 1, 14 March 1989.
8. See Stephanos Pesmazoglou, 'Titlomakhies', in Synkhrona Themata, December
1981. For an analysis of national-socialist language and propaganda, see Richard
Grunberger, A Social History of the Third Reich (Harmondsworth, 1979) and J.
P. Stem, The FUhrer and the People (London, 1975).
9. Angelos Elefantis and Makis Kavouriaris, 'PASOK, sosialismos i laikismos?', 0
Politis, October 1977; Kostas Kalligas, 'Laikismos kai typos', Deltio, 1983;
Chrysa Prokopaki, 'Laikismos kai logotekhnia', Deltio 1983. Among more
recent articles on populism linking it with the Greek case, see Nikos Mouzelis,
Thanos Lipovats, Michalis Spourdalakis, Loikismos koi Politiki (Athens, 1989);
Angelos Elefantis, 'Ston asterismo tou laikismou', 0 Politis, August 1989; and
Antonis Liakos, 'Peri laikismou', Ta /storiko, vi (1989), pp. 3-13.
7 PASOK's Foreign Policies,
1981-89: Continuity or
Theodore A. Couloumbis


Given the richness of coverage of the various aspects of Greece's foreign

policy elsewhere in this volume, 1 this essay will restrict itself to the status
of an interpretative overview. Taking as a starting point of reference the
foreign policies employed by the Nea Dimokratia government from 1974
to 1981, the central question that will help focus this essay is whether the
PASOK government departed radically from previous foreign-policy
patterns or whether it adopted and adapted Nea Dimokratia's policies to
Papandreou's and PASOK's idiosyncratic styles and ideologies. In short,
did PASOK's foreign policies represent continuity or change?
The specific tasks of this chapter are fourfold. First, to review some of
the recent relevant literature dealing with PASOK's foreign policy and to
classify it into clusters of interpretation or 'schools of thought'. Second, to
interpret and evaluate some of the key aspects of PASOK' s 'continuity vs
change' thesis. Third, to present two alternative explanatory models for
PASOK's pragmatic transformation in the post 1981 period. Fourth, to
arrive at some tentative conclusions, pose certain questions and make very
tentative projections regarding PASOK's foreign-policy stances as the
major opposition party in the post-1990 period.


The literature focusing on the description and classification ofPASOK as

a political party/movemene is divided between analysts who view
PASOK as a variant among West European socialist and social-
democratic parties3 and analysts who view it as a populist movement (re-
volving around a charismatic leader), that is, a variant of the Third World
socialist, or the Latin American Peronist model. 4 It is not the task of this

114 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
essay to delve into this most challenging and interesting dichotomy.
There is plenty of ammunition to support the case of each group of
analysts and, ultimately, the choice of whose case is stronger will be
made after a decade or two, depending on the longevity of PASOK as a
discrete political party and its capacity to survive the departure of
Andreas Papandreou from the party's leadership and to provide relatively
smooth transitions in subsequent leadership changes. Needless to say, the
above question becomes even more important when one accepts the
proposition that the foreign-policy stance of governments and opposition
parties is influenced by the internal socioeconomic and political
characteristics of states.
Of more relevance to the objectives of this essay, is an evaluation of the
scholarly and journalistic literature that has concentrated on the foreign
policies of the PASOK governments in the 1981-89 period. This
literature, also, can be conveniently divided into two major categories or
schools of thought: (a) those who view Papandreous's PASOK as respons-
ible (or potentially responsible) for a radical departure from traditional
pro-NATO and pro-Western orientations that characterised all earlier post-
Second World War Greek governments;5 (b) those who view the post-
1981 policies of the PASOK government, as continuing, in effect, the
policies of the predecessor Nea Dimokratia government. 6
The 'radical departure' school of thought emphasises the variable of
personality/idiosyncrasy of the party leader and places heavy emphasis on
ideological pronouncements which are viewed as accurate predictors of
future behaviour, given their limit-setting and goal-revealing properties.
These analysts follow, in other words, a similar methodological path to
that of 'kremlinologist' scholars, who placed heavy emphasis on the
careful scrutiny of the declaratory policy of the Soviet leadership,
assuming that ideology leads to specific policy choices rather than just
being used to rationalise, and ex-post facto legitimise, decisions that are
dictated by self-serving and pragmatic criteria.
Within the 'radical departure' school of thought, there is an interesting
dichotomy between two subsets of scholars that we could call 'hagio-
graphers' and 'demonologists' respectively. Both subsets of scholars
shared the assumption that the set of beliefs7 held by a strong charismatic
leader could serve as an accurate predictor of his or her future foreign-
policy behaviour. 8 The 'hagiographers' ,9 however, painted an image of a
heroic leader, whose task was clearly set and who, despite the many
obstacles, was leading the Greek ship of state safely to port (to a type of
socialism uniquely suited for Greece). They accepted, as a fact, the choice
Theodore A. Couloumbis 115
made by PASOK for a 'third road' to socialism which was deemed dif-
ferent from free-market capitalism and centrally-planned socialism. The
demonologists, 10 for their part, concentrated their attention on the negative
aspects of Andreas Papandreou and presented him as a 'villain' of Greek
history, a hybrid between a Castro and a Kerensky, with a passion for
power, and total lack of restraint in a path leading Greece out of its
rightful place in the Western community of democracies. Implicit or
explicit in some instances in this analysis was the recommendation that the
United States should pre-emptively act to isolate and destabilise this
'dangerous upstart' before he had a chance to consolidate himself in
power and transform Greece into a single-party 'democracy' behind an
ever-weakening parliamentary facade. 11
The proponents of the second school of thought, sharing the 'continuity
thesis', placed their major analytical emphasis on actions rather than
rhetoric (or stated intentions). Employing most often the premises of the
realist school of thought, they stressed the constraints facing whichever
government came to power in Greece, given the country's small size,
strategic location, regional problems, and socioeconomic conditions. Their
assessment of Papandreou and his government could be summarised in the
aphorism, 'signal left and tum right'. This judgement was based on the
observation that despite Papandreou's assertive and defiant Third World-
type rhetoric, when it came to important choices involving the country's
national security interests, he adopted lock, stock and barrel the policies of
his predecessors. Hence, contrary to pre-election rhetoric, he renewed the
US bases agreement in 1983; he chose to remain in the European
Community, not withdraw from NATO, and to pursue a policy of
deterrence based on military balance vis-a-vis Turkey, which could lead
eventually to a grand settlement of the Greek-Turkish dispute.
The proponents of the 'continuity thesis' proceeded with a sometimes
explicit and sometimes implicit assumption that leadership characteristics
cannot play a decisive role (as they did, for instance, in the case of Mikhail
Gorbachev, the leader of a great power) when one is dealing with leaders
of small, strategically located and externally dependent states whose
foreign policies are in most instances dictated by external variables. The
leaders of small states, their argument continued, operating rationally 12
were ultimately led to 'choose' what might otherwise be imposed on them.
Put another way and employing George Kennan's insightful analogy, the
leaders of small states could at best act as 'gardeners' (working marginally
and not contrary to the forces of nature) rather than as 'engineers' who
drastically alter the landscape, sometimes brutally disrupting the eco-
logical balance. 13
116 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
It should be noted that the 'continuity thesis' has been generally
adopted by the opposition parties during the years of PASOK's govern-
ance. For example, Konstantinos Mitsotakis, addressing parliament in
January 1987, summarised the foreign-policy profile of PASOK as
follows: 'The government took to the road; Mr. Papandreou began his
course as a Third-Worlder, cursing the European Community and NATO,
to end up applying, badly, our own policy 14 in the name of reality and
necessity.' Kharilaos Florakis, during the same debate, practically
equated the foreign-policy preferences of Nea Dimokratia and PASOK
on fundamental questions. 'The KKE', he said, 'cannot accept... (the
famous 7:10 ratio) which Nea Dimokratia and PASOK consider a
fundamental element of Greek national defence .... (The 7:10 ratio) is not
balance, but a trap that institutionalises the arms race on both sides of the
Aegean and places the Aegean under American tutelage and arbitral
. ,ts



(1) The historical background

PASOK came to power in October of 1981 with a surprisingly strong

mandate (48 per cent of the popular vote and 172 out of 300 deputies in
parliament). Upon assuming the premiership (as well as the post of
minister of defence), Papandreou had to make a critical choice in terms of
immediate policies, if not long-range objectives. The choice was between
following the thrust of his pre-election commitments, which called in
effect for the creation of a non-aligned Greece, and the option of
remaining within Western institutional structures such as the European
Community and NATO. Despite some verbal ambivalence, he opted for
the latter alternative. His government was to exhibit an ideologically
reluctant but substantively active (and, on occasion, abrasive) style of
participation in the European Community and NATO. Thus, he struck a
compromise with his pre-1981 position, by choosing to pursue a left-of-
centre orientation within rather than outside the political, economic and
military structure of the Western world.
One can, at best, speculate as to the logic that had prompted Papandreou
prior to 1981 (and more so prior to 1977) to employ Third World, neu-
tralist foreign-policy planks which he later was forced either to moderate
or abandon once he came to power. Were the shifts part of a well-thought-
Theodore A. Couloumbis 117
out plan? Were they the product of the tactical needs of the moment
designed to add to his electoral strength with the goal of winning in
elections? In other words, was Papandreou a strategist or a tactician? The
more prevalent response to these questions places Papandreou closer to
the category of a 'poker-player' (a masterful tactician) and further away
from the category of a 'chess-player' (the carefully calculating long-range
According to the 'poker-player' interpretation, the strongly neutralist
foreign policy positions of PASOK in the 1974-71 period can best be
explained as part of the tactics of a small, but vocal and vigorous, protest
movement with limited chances at the ballot box. Its primary purpose,
then, was to gain the attention of the general public by projecting
unequivocal and emotive planks that would sharply distinguish PASOK as
a credible, non-communist alternative to the old Greek establishment and
its 'go along with the West at any price' policies.
In the wake of the colonels' dictatorship, strong anti-American
sentiments had developed among the people, based on the widely-held
perception that the dictatorship had enjoyed warm US backing and that
the colonels' coup in Cyprus, and the Turkish invasion which it triggered,
were met by the US and NATO by a tepid stance ranging from
indifference to sympathetic inaction. Adding to these feelings of dismay
was a historically nurtured resentment among the Greeks against all forms
of foreign intervention in the small country's internal affairs. By adopting
strongly nationalist slogans of self-reliance - such as 'Greece belongs to
the Greeks' - PASOK and Papandreou attracted votes that would
otherwise have gone to a KKE that had consistently maintained an anti-
American and anti-Western stance.
In the autumn 1971 elections, PASOK surprised most observers by
doubling its strength from 13 per cent (in the 1974 elections) to 25 per
cent. Papandreou, with remarkable agility, adapted to the new role of
being the leader of the major, if not-so-loyal, opposition party. In a
country with rapidly increasing urban lower-middle classes, PASOK
needed to attract a large share of centrist voters in order to have a credible
chance in future electoral contests. It was also clear that centrist (middle-
class) voters were more sensitive to quality-of-life, bread-and-butter issues
and not inclined to pay more than lip-service to strongly nationalistic and
adventurist policies that could have isolated Greece from the West,
resulted in a destructive Greek-Turkish war, and - even - degenerated
into another right-wing military dictatorship. So the focus, once again,
shifted accordingly and the party's profile was reshaped. Opposition to
Greece's membership of the European Community was softened con-
118 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
siderably, and, as the October 1981 elections approached, Andreas
Papandreou in many public speeches and interviews systematically
stressed the need for the maintenance of the strength and readiness of the
armed forces that provided the only credible deterrent against Turkish
revisionist claims in the Aegean. Recognising, simultaneously, the
dependence of the Greek defence establishment on Western (especially
American) sources of supply, and the fact that the Greek-Turkish balance
of forces could be dramatically altered by a shift in the allocation of US
military aid to the two countries, Papandreou unequivocally stated that
when he assumed the government he would do 'nothing' which might
endanger the combat-effectiveness of the armed forces. The implication
was clear. The rhetoric about the immediate removal of US bases would
necessarily have to be adjusted to the imperatives of reality.
Having attained power late in 1981, with Greece already being a full
member of the European Community, Papandreou must have felt that the
most important concern for a governing party that sought to apply a
radically reformist programme would be 'time'. PASOK would have to
employ, therefore, a mix of policies that would reduce self-destabilising
actions to a minimum, without simultaneously abandoning the promise of
'change' which was, after all, the slogan that had helped sweep PASOK
into power.
Applied to everyday foreign policies, all this meant that PASOK would
have to adopt a two-track, or dualistic, policy. It would be designed to
present the party as a force that remained true to its long-range visions
and objectives (to move toward a world that would be free of spheres of
influence and military blocs, thus permitting the growth of socialism in a
democratic setting), while following policies - in the short and medium
runs- that would not endanger the country's territorial integrity. The sine
qua non for national security was an adequate military and political
balance of power which could deter Turkish revisionist designs.

(2) The two tracks ofPASOK'sforeign polides

PASOK's foreign-policy positions after 1981 could be classified in two

different but interrelated taxonomies. The first would divide PASOK's
policies into subcategories of 'declaratory' vs 'applied' policies. The
former would concentrate on ideological pronouncements and statements
of intent. The latter would focus on actual behaviour stripped of all
explanatory and rationalising content. The second taxonomy and the one
that will be employed by this chapter, separates PASOK's foreign policies
into subcategories entitled 'core' and 'periphery' . 16 Core policies were
Theodore A. Couloumbis 119
those that touched upon Greece's national security and territorial integrity.
Periphery policies dealt primarily with general party positions and
pronouncements on the status and interpretation of East-West,
North-South and South-South relations.

(a) Core policies

Looking first at core policies, it can be argued that PASOK followed a
moderate and pragmatic approach. It quickly, once in power, dropped its
vocal opposition to the presence of US bases in Greece. Instead it started
bilateral negotiations with the US which led to the signing of a five-year
base agreement in the summer of 1983. The presence of the US bases,
from the PASOK perspective, was to be made conditional on the pre-
servation of the Greek-Turkish military balance in the Aegean -
understood in terms of a 7:10 ratio in US military aid and sales to Greece
and Turkey respectively. Initially, PASOK declared that the expiration of
this agreement, late in 1988, would signal the final removal of these bases
from Greek soil. This, apparently, was a tactic designed to soften the
impact on the public of such an abrupt about-face from PASOK's pre-
election promises. For as early as the autumn of 1985 the Papandreou
government had opened the door for the continuation of the US bases in
Greece by indicating its readiness to begin a new round of negotiations for
a new-base agreement which - it was argued - once concluded with
mutual satisfaction, would be submitted through a referendum to the final
arbiter - the people. 17
Base negotiations began early in 1988 and were suspended after many
sessions (in May of 1989) in view of the June 1989 elections. It fell to Nea
Dimokratia to complete the task by concluding an eight-year agreement
shortly after assuming power in April1990. Nea Dimokratia argued that
80 per cent of the new defence and cooperation agreement had been
worked out by the previous PASOK government
PASOK similarly reversed gears on the core policy regarding NATO. It
adopted the modified view that the continued participation of Greece in
the Western alliance had been rendered mandatory, among other reasons,
to prevent a contingency in which Turkey - inside NATO while Greece
was out - would promote its partitionist objectives in the Aegean through
NATO rearrangements expanding the extent and scope of Turkey's
command and control responsibilities. If such a task-expansion were to
take place, the Greek islands of the eastern Aegean would have been
enclaved into zones of Turkish 'responsibility', opening up additional
avenues for Turkish military intervention in Greek sovereign territory.
Papandreou had summarised his feelings during debate in parliament: 'the
120 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
two members of NATO can possibly collide in war and .. .it is equally
certain that the collision would be rendered inevitable if Greece were to
withdraw from NATO' .18
Finally, and most importantly, the PASOK government, in line with its
post-1981 adjustment on core issues, formally accepted, as a long-range
prospect, Greece's participation in the European Community. Community
membership was initially seen as an unavoidable fact of life, given that the
expected costs of withdrawal would have been greater than the costs of
continued membership. Greece, under PASOK, became involved
energetically in the Community, employing a formula of 'assertive
participation' and placing as its primary objective the convergence of the
economies of the rich European North with those of the less developed
European South. It was apparent to PASOK, as well as all other major
political parties (with a final closing of the ranks by the KKE in the
1988-89 period), that Greece's membership in the European Community
offered her, among many other benefits, some diplomatic leverage vis-a-
vis Turkey, given the latter's repeatedly-declared objective of seeing
accession to the European Community.

(b) Periphery policies

The dualistic nature of PASOK (we could call it a party with a Western
mind and a Third World heart) was given full expression in the second
category of policies that we have termed periphery policies. These policies
touched upon Greece's relations with Eastern Europe and the Soviet
Union, the Middle East and Central America, as well as other parts of the
world. In this set of policies (which were mainly declaratory in nature and
without tangible impact on the course of events) PASOK sought to
differentiate its worldview drastically from the typically pro-Western
profile of its right-wing predecessors.
We will offer here a few examples to approximate the tenor of these
policies. They were first manifested in the early months following
PASOK's assumption of power through a series of vocally-pronounced
reservations in joint communiques issued by NATO and the European
Community. Greece took somewhat different positions on the issues of
Poland, the Middle East, Central America (El Salvador and Nicaragua)
and the 1983 downing of the Korean jumbo-jet by the Soviets. On the
issue of General Jaruzelski's military intervention in Poland, PASOK
regretted the imposition of martial law and the banning of the Solidarity
movement, but was opposed to the application of stiff economic sanctions
on the USSR and Poland as the most suitable means of securing liberalisa-
tion in Poland. With the passage of time, and given the Jaruzelski process
Theodore A. Couloumbis 121
of gradual liberalisation, PASOK's position ceased being out of tune
vis-a-vis its Western allies.
On the issues of the Middle East, PASOK's position, in substance, had
not been different from that of its conservative predecessors or from
positions held by some of its West European partners (e.g. France, Italy
and Spain). The PASOK position called for a settlement of the Middle
East question based on the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution
242. In the Greek view, Israel has a right to exist securely within its pre-
June 1967 frontiers. But, there was an equivalent right of the Palestinians
to live in a state of their own which - after mutual agreement - could be
formed in the occupied territories of the West Bank and the Gaza strip.
Yet, at the levels of declarations and general symbolism, PASOK created
the impression of enjoying a special relationship with the Arab world. For
example, the Papandreou government upgraded to diplomatic status the
PLO office in Athens, and treated Yassir Arafat with excessive warmth,
while issuing stiff condemnatory statements in instances of Israeli
interventions into Lebanese territory.
On the El Salvador and Nicaragua issues, PASOK's position was
similar with that of the French government, or that of the Contadora
group, calling for a negotiated settlement in El Salvador which would
permit the active participation of the Salvadoran revolutionary forces in a
coalition government. The PASOK government, further, was highly
critical of US intervention in the region of Central America - including
US support of the Contra rebels in Nicaragua- and only mildly critical of
similar practices by other countries, such as Fidel Castro's Cuba.
The policies of the socialist government vis-a-vis the USSR, Eastern
Europe and the Balkans continued and accelerated the trend toward
regional detente, mutual friendship and cooperation which had begun with
the predecessor Nea Dimokratia governments. For Greece, it appears, the
Cold War ended in 1974, given the greater perceived threat emanating
from neighbouring and allied Turkey.
PASOK shared with other West European governments the premise that
the cultivation of detente was much more advantageous for all concerned
than Cold War tensions. Hence the Nea Dimokratia and, later, the PASOK
government - facing already a considerable threat from Turkey - saw
every reason to cultivate a tension-free atmosphere with Greece's northern
neighbours and the USSR and refused to follow the assertive and
confrontationist style of the first Reagan administration in Washington.
In symbolic terms, Papandreou asserted that governments in both East
and West should aid and comfort peace and anti-nuclear-armament
movements. He repeatedly pronounced that the threat of nuclear holocaust
122 Greece, 1981--89: The Populist Decade
was humankind's number-one enemy. Specifically, PASOK's policies in
the arms-control field were pursued with two parallel initiatives. The first
was toward the development of a nuclear-free zone in the Balkans. It met
only with Romanian support, with general indifference on the part of the
other Balkan states, and with outright opposition from Turkey which,
thus, could appear faithful to NATO as well as leave its options open for
further development of a Turkish nuclear capability in cooperation with
Pakistan or other states. The second initiative, which was elaborately
publicised in Greece, was Greece's participation in the 'Group of Six'
(India, Mexico, Sweden, Greece, Brazil and Tanzania). This loosely-
organised group was established in 1984 and its major objective was to
promote the cause of nuclear disarmament and the suspension of nuclear
weapons-testing. Of special utility for PASOK's image- the need for
consistency with its neutralist origins - was the association of its leader
with the heads of five other states that could be classified as neutral or



(1) The 'father vs son' model

Assessing the whole package of PASOK's core and periphery foreign

policies, one can suggest an analytical approach which might help us
identify some of the underlying reasons accounting for the post-1981
pragmatic adjustment. We could assume that Papandreou's central
concern upon coming to power had been to avoid emulating his father's
experience in government during the critical years of 1964-65, when the
Enosis Kentrou party had briefly been given the opportunity to govern
Greece. An ugly confrontation between the then prime minister, Georgios
Papandreou, and the head of state, King Constantine, had escalated into an
acute political crisis which eventually culminated in the military coup of
21 April1967 and the subsequent seven-year dictatorship.
The Enosis Kentrou in the 1964-65 period was a loose, pluralistic and
centrifugal party of prominent and independent personalities that were
consumed in constant, competitive manoeuvring designed to maximise
intra-party influence and eventual control. On the contrary, Papandreou
founded in the middle of 1974 in PASOK a top-heavy, streamlined, and
well-disciplined party where he remains (even after relinquishing the
premiership under a cloud of alleged scandals and other excesses) the
Theodore A. Couloumbis 123
undisputed leader. Papandreou, unlike his father, had been quick - in the
1981-88 period - to remove summarily any party critics in and out of
cabinet ranks once their differing positions were made public.
The Enosis Kentrou in the 1964-65 period had focused heavily on
investigating and revealing the alleged excesses of right-wing gov-
ernments in the 1952-63 period. PASOK, on the contrary, soughtto con-
centrate on the implementation of its domestic programme and policies
without becoming involved in destabilising investigations of the past. A
typical example of this approach was its handling of the so-called 'Cyprus
file'. When his party was in opposition, in the late 1970s, Papandreou had
insisted that the whole sordid affair should be investigated so that the
people would find out the truth about the 1974 Cyprus tragedy. After
coming to power, however, Papandreou delayed for years the establish-
ment of a parliamentary investigative committee. Eventually parliament
established a multi-party committee that heard in closed sessions from a
number of witnesses and subsequently released an anodyne report that has
put the whole issue to rest.
In the 1964-65 period, the Georgios Papandreou government had
targeted the state apparatus and the armed forces which were said to be
under total right-wing control as well as being penetrated by foreign
intelligence agencies through decades of control by the conservative
establishment and the king. In the case of the armed forces, as well,
especially in the first four-year term, PASOK followed the exactly
opposite course. As prime minister, Papandreou closely identified himself
and PASOK with the armed forces and repeatedly declared that they were
the only credible shield against any threat to the nation's territorial
integrity. PASOK continued - in fact intensified - the conservative
governments' policies of authorising high military expenditures (in the
vicinity of 7 per cent of the GNP) in order to guarantee high levels of
military readiness. Symbolically, Papandreou, in addition to the
premiership, assumed the duties of defence minister in a dramatic
demonstration of his genuine attachments. Throughout the period 1981-85
- while Konstantinos Karamanlis remained president of the Republic -
Papandreou was very deferential to the president with respect to
promotions, retentions and retirement decisions in the highest ranks of the
armed forces.
In the 1964-65 period, Georgios Papandreou, as prime minister, came
to a direct confrontation with King Constantine, then head of state, over an
issue involving the armed forces. Here, once again, the relationship
between Papandreou, as prime minister, and Karamanlis, as president,
remained quite correct, if not mutually reinforcing, until 1985 and the end
124 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
of Karamanlis' s term in office. It could be argued, for instance, that
Papandreou's pragmatic U-turn in 1981 was to some extent the result of the
need not to confront the powerful president whose reinforced authority
permitted him to dismiss the government at any time and call for new
elections. Concurrently, the need to avoid a clash with the head of state,
offered Papandreou a useful rationale with which he could pacify left-of-
centre PASOK critics, who felt that their party's neutralist vision was being
abandoned. When, in 1985, Papandreou, contrary to the expectations that
he had steadily cultivated, decided not to nominate Karamanlis for a second
five-year term in the presidency, he was able to proceed from a position of
relative safety, given the reinforced parliamentary majority that PASOK
(together with the communist parties) enjoyed at that time. Further, with an
election around the corner, and constitutional change impending,
Karamanlis's reinforced powers were no longer of any practical utility.
In foreign policy, the Enosis Kentrou government in the 1964--65 period
became involved in an acute confrontation with Turkey over Cyprus while
simultaneously opposing US attempts (such as the 'Acheson plan' for a
form of partition of Cyprus between Greece and Turkey) to settle the
thorny problem in a manner that aimed to accommodate both Greek and
Turkish mainland interests (and NATO interests as well) but not
necessarily those of the Cypriot people. In foreign policy, as we have
already demonstrated, the Papandreou government sought to minimise
external adventures and to avoid a situation of concurrent conflict between
Greece on one side and Turkey, with the United States, on the other.
Contrary to confrontationist and ultra-nationalist pre-election (1981)
planks vis-a-vis Turkey, PASOK- in government- sought to keep alive
the Greek-Turkish diplomatic dialogue and to perpetuate a peaceful
modus vivendi in the Aegean until the time when a mutually-agreed
settlement would be arrived at.
Even in the face of a major provocation (the unilateral declaration of in-
dependence by the Turkish Cypriots on 15 November 1983}, PASOK
scrupulously avoided the escalation of conflict with Turkey. Later, follow-
ing a major crisis in March 1987 involving the Aegean continental shelf,
Papandreou surprised most observers early in 1988 by reaching a major
accommodation with Turgut Ozal, the then prime minister of Turkey, at
Davos, Switzerland. The 'spirit of Davos', unfortunately, did not lead to
tangible results, but again it was an indication of the infinite versatility
and flexibility of Papandreou in power. Similarly, moderating its anti-
American pre-election posture, PASOK readily reached a mutually-
acceptable agreement with the conservative Reagan administration on the
issue of the US bases in Greece. In his second term in office, after winning
Theodore A. Couloumbis 125
the June 1985 elections, and following considerable tension in US-Greek
relations over the issue of PASOK's perceived softness vis-a-vis Arab
terrorism, the process of a step-by-step full normalisation of Greek-
American relations began, leading to PASOK's decision to reverse once
more its stated intentions regarding the presence of US bases in Greece
well beyond the late-1988 deadline.

(2) The 'non-communist, left-of-centre alternative' model

A second explanatory framework could also be advanced here for heuristic

purposes, to help explain Papandreou's post-1981 pragmatic adjustment. It
is, admittedly, more difficult to accept, in that it presents the ex-prime
minister as a long-range planner, in the 'chess-player' rather than the more
commonly-accepted 'poker-player' analogy. In terms of a proposition it
can be phrased as follows: implicit in Papandreou's changing patterns of
rhetoric and action, was a long-range strategy contributing to the
reintegration of a post-Second World War Greek society seriously divided
by civil war. The basic explanatory ingredients of this proposition would
include the following five points.
(a) Greece, socioeconomically, was by 1974 acquiring the status of a less
developed but, nevertheless, West European society.
(b) Since the Second World War, no West European state had permitted
its respective communist party to take exclusive control of the levers
of government. Additionally, Greece, having experienced a bloody
civil war and the seven-year dictatorship, was still vulnerable to a
praetorian relapse if the communists appeared to be on the verge of
taking power, either independently or in coalition with other left-of-
centre parties.
(c) There was a need, given (a) and (b) above, to develop in Greece a
left-of-centre, socialist but non-communist party that would represent
the 'non-privileged', including a portion of those who could be
termed the 'defeated' in the civil war.
(d) The development and growth of such a party would provide a genuine
alternative to the conservative forces that had dominated politics
from 1935 onwards. If such a party, which would be reformist but
non-revolutionary, came to power, it would add to the legitimacy and
the credibility of the country's democratic institutions, in the sense
that left-of-centre voters would realise that they could gain power
peacefully and without provoking pro-right-wing military
126 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
(e) The existence of PASOK, ultimately, would serve the interests of the
rapidly-expanding middle class by functioning as a 'lightning rod'
or a 'vacuum cleaner' that would absorb votes, which would have
otherwise gravitated to the communists. Once in power, PASOK
would contribute to the 'enlargement' of the establishment, thus
enhancing its legitimacy and long-term viability.
If historians at some future date are able to demonstrate with adequate
documentation that Papandreou had premeditated over the years the above
'scenario' then he will surely be given high marks as an able and
innovative leader.


In my own writings, 19 sometimes relying on instinct and sometimes wishful

thinking, I placed myself among the cluster of analysts that accepted what
we have called, above, the 'continuity thesis'. My analysis was based on the
assumption that Papandreou, given Karamanlis's firmly-rooted West
European orientation, would compromise on foreign-policy questions so
that he could have a free hand on domestic economic and social policies as
well as the time needed to consolidate his left-of-centre-alternative move-
ment in power. As we suggested above, Karamanlis enjoyed constitutional
powers - prior to the 1986 revision of the constitution - which gave him the
undisputed right to dismiss the government and call for national elections.
But, following the inelegant defenestration of Karamanlis from the
presidency in 1985, and the reduction, through the 1986 constitutional
revision, of the presidency to a ceremonial and politically impotent office,
Papandreou once again surprised most of his 'watchers'. After a
comfortable re-election victory in June 1985 and having placed in the
ceremonial office a person of his own choosing - Khristos Sartzetakis -
Papandreou had become (at least legally) omnipotent. Yet, instead of
moving leftward, in accordance with the vision and the mandates of his
socialist movement, he made a noticeable shift toward the right in policies
as well as in pronouncements. Domestically, he instituted an orthodox
package of austere economic stabilisation measures (1985-87).
Internationally, he reinforced the West European profile of the government
and, by the time PASOK in the second half of 1988 was serving for a
second time in the rotating role of the EC presidency, Papandreou and
Greece had transformed themselves into the Community's most vocal
federalists. With respect to the US also, Papandreou moved rapidly in his
Theodore A. Couloumbis 127
second administration to 'calm the waters' and to achieve full
normalisation of relations including the initiation of negotiations for a
follow-up US-Greek base agreement.
Finally, in the one area where PASOK had sought strongly to
differentiate itself from Nea Dimokratia, Greek-Turkish relations and the
problem of Cyprus, Papandreou also made a dramatic volte-face. For some
years, the declared position of PASOK had been that, unless Turkey
removed its occupation troops from Cyprus, there would be no point to a
Greek-Turkish dialogue with which to attempt to settle the bilateral
problems that divided the two countries in the Aegean. Yet, late in January
of 1988, in a dramatic and well-publicised meeting between the Greek
prime minister and the then prime minister of Turkey (Turgut Ozal), a
'new era' in Greek-Turkish relations was announced, and a process
(involving two bilateral sets of negotiating committees in political and
economic affairs respectively) began. The process was designed to reach a
comprehensive settlement, despite the fact that no progress toward a
Cyprus solution had been made. In fact, Papandreou totally decoupled the
Cyprus question from bilateral Greek-Turkish relations to the point that he
was accused in some quarters of having shelved or buried this most
important national question.
In the middle of 1988, the prospects for Papandreou's political fortunes
were good. The popular peace-process with neighbouring Turkey was in
full swing. The austerity measures in anticipation of an early election -
late in 1988 or early in 1989- had been lifted and the PASOK government
initiated a spending and welfare spree. Greek-American base negotiations
were continuing at a measured pace and Papandreou's intention was
apparently to avoid an embarrassing completion of the negotiations prior
to the elections. On all other fronts, the climate of Greek-American
relations had improved and dramatic progress with the INF treaty and
global detente also improved the scene for a PASOK that in the past had
been considered soft on communism and soft on terrorism. Finally, Greece
had elaborately prepared for the pomp and circumstance of the European
Community summit and other gatherings in Greece consequent upon the
Community presidency.
But, then, suddenly the whole edifice came tumbling down. Papandreou
was diagnosed late in July 1988 as suffering from a serious heart ailment
and was rushed to a London hospital for surgery. During his long absence
-in Watergate style- a major set of economic scandals, dubbed as the
'Koskotas affair', came to the surface with serious allegations being made
against Papandreou and some key PASOK figures. Elections were
delayed, and further revelations regarding improprieties continued to
128 Greece, 1981--89: The Populist Decade
erode the prime minister's image. His extra-marital relationship and
divorce also played a part, and yet PASOK lost to Nea Dimokratia only by
a narrow margin in three successive elections (June 1989, November 1989
and April1990).
I will conclude this essay on Papandreou's and PASOK's foreign
policies by posing three questions. The answers cannot be given easily
and one can at best speculate at this time.

1. Why did Papandreou adopt, to begin with, a Third World, 'third-road'

image in foreign and domestic policies in the 1974-77/1981 period?
There are at least four speculative responses. (a) Because he felt that
such an image would help him, and his party, come to power. (b)
Because he wanted to create a 'non-communist left' alternative in a
Greece traumatised by civil war. (c) Because he believed in those
views at that time. (d) All the above.
2. Why did Papandreou adjust to, and employ, his predecessor's (Nea
Dimokratia's) foreign policies which he had thoroughly denounced in
the 1974-81 period?
There are, here too, at least four speculative responses. (a) Because
he felt that a realistic adjustment in foreign policy would help him stay
in power. (b) Because in the role of prime minister he became aware of
all the imperatives and limitations of power. (c) Because his beliefs
evolved/changed with new information and new circumstances. (d) All
the above.
3. What will be the profile of PASOK in the role of 'loyal opposition'
during the 1990s? Here one can respond with at least two projections:
one optimistic projection would be based on the following
preconditions. (a) PASOK maintains its unity after the withdrawal
of Papandreou from its leadership. (b) The party improves its
organisation and moves into a post-charismatic leadership model.
(c) Elements of populism of the Avriani newspaper variety are
gradually reduced in intra-party influence. (d) A European-socialist
profile is openly endorsed and anachronistic Third World pretensions
are quietly shelved. Alternatively, one could make a case for a
pessimistic projection based on assumptions of unbridgeable intra-
party quarrels in the post-Papandreou period and the ascendancy of a
fanatic, populist leadership that will continue to view Greek politics in
zero-sum, manichean terms, rather than the politics of a West
European pluralist and participatory civil society. This author, once
more risking the uncertain fate of the crystal-ball gazer, will add his
voice in the direction of the optimistic projection.
Theodore A. Couloumbis 129


l. See Chapters 10, 9 and 8.

2. M. Spourdalalds, The Rise of the Greek Socialist Party (London, 1988); A.
Elephantis, 'PASOK and the elections of 1977', in H. R. Penniman (ed.), Greece
at the Polls (Washington, DC, 1981), pp. 105-29; G. Mavrogordatos, Rise of the
Green Sun: The Greek elections of I98I (London: Centre of Contemporary
Greek Studies, 1983); N. Mouzelis, 'The Greek elections and the rise of
PASOK', New Left Review, No. 108, March-April 1978, pp. 56-76; N.
Diamandouros, 'Transition to, and consolidation of democratic politics in
Greece, 1974-1983: a tentative assessment', in G. Pridham (ed.), The New
Mediterranean Democracies (London, 1984); K. Featherstone and D. Katsoudas
(eds), Political Change in Greece: Before and after the Colonels (London,
3. Diamandouros, op. cit.; Mavrogordatos, op. cit.; Spourdalakis, op. cit.
4. Elephantis, op. cit.; Mouzelis, op. cit.
5. C. Melakopides, 'The logic of Papandreou's foreign policy', International
Journal, Summer 1987, pp. 558-84; J. Petras, 'The contradictions of Greek
Socialism', New Left Review, 163, June 1987, pp. 3-25 and 'Greek socialism:
walking the tightrope', Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora (1982), pp. 7-16; R. C.
Macridis, Greek Politics at a Crossroads: What kind of socialism? (Stanford,
1984); N. A. Stavrou, 'Ideological foundations of the Panhellenic Socialist
Movement', inN. A. Stavrou (ed.), Greece under Socialism (New Rochelle, NY,
1988), pp. 11-40; P. Dimitras, 'Greece: a new danger', Foreign Policy, March
1983, pp. 134-50, and 'Greece's new isolationism', Public Opinion Quarterly,
February-March 1983, pp. 14-16; P. J. Vatikiotis, 'Greece; the triumph of
socialism', Survey, xxvi (1982), pp. 50--65.
6. R. Clogg, Parties and Elections in Greece (London, 1987) and 'PASOK in
power: rendez-vous with history or with reality?', The World Today, xxxix
(1983), pp. 436-42; T. Veremis, Greek Security: Issues and politics, Adelphi
Papers No. 179 (London, 1982); D. Constas, 'Greek foreign policy objectives,
1974-1986', Yearbook, Hellenic Foundation for Defense and Foreign Policy
(Athens, 1988), pp. 93-128; V. Coufoudakis, 'Greek foreign policy since 1974:
quest for independence', Journal of Modern Greek Studies (1988), pp. 55-75; T.
Couloumbis, The United States, Greece and Turkey: The troubled triangle (New
York, 1983); and D. Constas and C. Tsardanidis (eds), Synkhroni elliniki
exoteriki politiki, 2 vols {Athens, 1989); J. Loulis, 'Papandreou's foreign policy',
ForeignAffairs, Winter 1984,pp. 375-91.
7. Alexander George, 'The operational code' ,International Studies Quarterly, xiii,
Spring 1969.
8. As with other 'single-factor' oriented explanations, this approach suffers by
neglecting other sets of important variables at the group, state, regional and
international system levels of analysis.
9. See, for example, Melakopides, op. cit., and James Petras, prior to his apparent
disillusionment with PASOK in later years, 'Greek socialism: walking the
'tightrope', op. cit. 1982.
10. See, for example, Macridis, op. cit.; Stavrou op. cit.; and James Petras's later
work 'The contradictions of Greek socialism', op. cit., 1987. For treatments
implying the strategic instability of Greece (given its PASOK government) see
also J. C. Snyder, 'Strategic bias and southern flank security', The Washington
Quarterly, Summer 1985, pp. 123-38; P. B. Henze, 'Out of kilter- Greeks,
130 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
Turks and US policy', National Interest, viii (1987), pp. 71-82; J. Noyon,
'Greeks bearing gifts: Papandreou in power', The Washington Quarterly, v
(1982), pp. 91-9.
11. It should be noted that Turkish analysts and commentators, proceeding -
obviously - from a different set of motives and premises, shared a similar
analysis with that of the 'demonologists' in that they systematically cautioned
Americans about the unreliability and/or instability of the Greeks who could
easily, they argued, lapse into communism or non-alignment, endangering the
south-eastern flank of NATO. Hence, they concluded, the US should rely
primarily on Turkey to safeguard its security interests. The latter was presented
as loyal, steadfast and highly stable. See, for example, S. Tashan, 'Turkish-US
relations and Cyprus', Dis politika, iv (1974), pp. 164-76; G. Sibay,
'Turkish-Greek relations', Dis politika, ix ( 1981 ), pp. 23-6.
12. The 'continuity school' consistently presented Papandreou as acting on the basis
of rational (self-enhancing), pragmatic and calculating criteria rather than being a
fanatical ideologue, unrestrained by reality.
13. George F. Kennan, Realities of American Foreign Policy, (Princeton, 1954), p.
14. Greek Parliament, Minutes, 23 January 1987, 'Debate on issues of national
defence', p. 2916 (emphasis supplied).
15. Ibid., p. 2947.
16. This taxonomy was used in my paper entitled 'Greek foreign policy in a
European setting', presented at the MGSA Conference in New York, 27-30
October 1983 and at the Lehrman Institute Conference in New York, April6-7
1984. See also Van Coufoudakis, op. cit.
17. These elaborate, if not labyrinthine, gyrations reflected part of the difficulty
created for a political party that had been carrying heavy ideological baggage
from its pre-government days and which was desperately attempting to appear
true to its initial neutralist pronouncements.
18. Gteek Parliament, Minutes, op. cit., p. 2912 (emphasis added).
19. See, for example, Couloumbis, The United States, Greece and Turkey: The
troubled triangle, op. cit.
8 From the 'Special
Relationship' to
Europeanism: PASOK and
the European Community,
Susannah Verney


Due to the composite nature of West European integration, relations with

the European Community (EC) occupy a special position at the interface
between domestic and foreign policy. Accession to the EC can be regarded
as definitive both externally, for a member state's relationship to the
international system, and internally, for its socioeconomic development.
The effects of the EC permeate virtually all policy areas, becoming
increasingly broader and deeper as integration continues. This ecumenical
nature of EC membership makes it essential to evaluate PASOK's record
in this sector when assessing the impact which the party's period in
government had on Greece.
PASOK formed its first government only ten months after full Greek
entry to the EC. Thus it was PASOK which bore the chief responsibility
for shaping Greek government strategy during the critical early years of
membership. This was especially significant, given that the metaphysical
nature of the political party debate which had preceded accession
suggested that Greece's adjustment to the Community was likely to be
particularly difficult.
During the period from 1974 to 1981, there had been no reasoned
exchange of views or substantial discussion of what the EC actually
meant. Instead, each of the political parties had taken up a highly
ideological position, determined by its perception of where Greece should
belong in a bipolar world, rather than by economic practicalities. As a
result, the EC had assumed almost mythical dimensions, as something
more or less wholly good or wholly bad, depending on party preference.
132 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
While its supporters frequently expressed the belief that the benefits of
Community membership included the fact that radical restructuring of the
economy and bureaucracy would become inevitable, prior to accession
practical efforts in this direction under the Nea Dimokratia (ND) govern-
ment had been neither extensive nor coordinated. The pressing political
reasons for accession (the desire to stabilise Greece's new democratic
structures and the search for security vis-a-vis the Turkish threat) and the
external dynamics of Community enlargement (with the Iberian candidates
pushing for entry), as well as domestic political considerations (the
imminent rise to power of the anti-accession PASOK) all militated against
delaying entry. The expectation that EC competition would provide a
healthy shock for Greece was graphically encapsulated in the famous
declaration by Konstantinos Karamanlis, the acknowledged 'architect of
accession', that in taking Greece into the Community, he was metaphor-
ically throwing the Greeks into the sea to see whether they could swim.
But Greece in 1981 could not be described as prepared for immersion in
the EC ocean, either on a practical or on a psychological level. Thus
PASOK' s period in government coincided with a phase of painful adapta-
tion, when the EC metamorphosed from being a symbol in intra-party
competition into becoming a reality in Greek political and economic life.


PASOK's EC policy also illustrates developments within the party itself.

Firstly, in terms of policy management, the EC sector can provide some
insights into the mode of government during the PASOK decade.
In January 1982 the dramatic dismissal of deputy foreign minister
Asimakis Fotilas, who had allegedly exceeded his instructions in signing
an EC foreign ministers' communique condemning the imposition of
military rule in Poland, was the first example of a later familiar pattern.
Transferring to his government the firm grip he had always had on his
party, Papandreou was to juggle cabinets and replace ministers at very
frequent intervals, so that none of his leading cadres could start to feel
secure in their posts or acquire any real autonomy. Interestingly enough,
however, in the case of the deputy minister with political responsibility for
EC policy, there was only one change, when Theodoros Pangalos replaced
Grigoris Varfis in January 1984. This exception to the rule may indicate
that relations with the EC were regarded as too crucial a policy area to be
subject to the frequent changes of personnel through which Papandreou
maintained his own total control.
Susannah Verney 133
The prime minister's hegemony was facilitated by the weakness of the
other levels of government. Administratively, inter-ministerial liaison on
EC affairs seems to have been problematic, affected by the traditional
malaise of non-communicating 'watertight compartments' within the
bureaucracy and aggravated by the well-known rivalries among PASOK
ministers. Meanwhile, the minimal discussion of EC affairs in parliament
was typical of the further downgrading under PASOK of the junior role
allocated to the legislature by the 1975 constitution. Although parliament
was very much subordinated to the executive, the latter for its part did not
function collectively as far as the EC was concerned. Thus party cadre
Gerasimos Arsenis, in a memoir published shortly after his temporary
withdrawal from the party in 1986, complained that during his period as
national economy minister (July 1982 to June 1985), Greece's general EC
strategy had 'never' been discussed in cabinet, while issues relating to the
EC were raised 'only once or twice'. Arsenis described the Foreign
Ministry special service handling Community business as 'a closed circle',
with its own deputy minister but 'under the supervision of the prime
minister' .1 What this seems to have meant in practice was that day-to-day
management and the shaping of Greece's negotiating strategy was left to
the technocrats in this service. Meanwhile the overall political direction of
Greek-EC relations, especially during PASOK's first term in government,
remained more or less the exclusive preserve of Andreas Papandreou.
This marked an element of continuity with PASOK's period in
opposition, during which party policy on major issues was almost always
made by Papandreou himself, usually bypassing all organisational
channels and communicating directly with the media. This explains why,
both before and after 1981, Papandreou's speeches would be eagerly
dissected by political analysts searching for subtle nuances which might
indicate a change of direction on the EC.


PASOK's shifting stance on the EC can help to illuminate some aspects of

the extensive change which the party itself underwent as it moved from
opposition to government and then from first to second term in office. An
examination of PASOK's handling of government policy in this sig-
nificant sector can give some indication of the evolution in its political
practice, while party pronouncements on the EC can serve as a 'baro-
meter' of the more general change in PASOK's ideology between the
electoral triumph of October 1981 and the fall from grace in June 1989.
134 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
EC policy had always played a central role in the construction of
PASOK's public identity. During the initial restructuring of the political
party system in the early post-dictatorship period, PASOK's adoption of a
hardline anti-EC stance, formerly confined to the communist left,
contributed to the establishment of the newly-born party's anti-system
Part of a more sweeping rejection of the country's predominantly
Western orientation, PASOK's opposition to closer EC links found its
ideological justification in dependence theory. Thus PASOK classified
Greece as a peripheral country which should be engaged in throwing off
the imperialist yoke, not in tightening the bonds to the metropolitan
centres of Western Europe. In tum, it identified itself as a national
liberation movement, far removed from the social democratic parties
which allegedly acted as 'Washington's watchdogs' within the EC. With
the crusade against accession, PASOK successfully tapped the historical
and cultural anti-Westemism always latent in Greek society and recently
reinvigorated by the summer 1974 Cyprus invasions, which had generated
bitter political disillusion with Greece's Western allies. PASOK's anti-EC
attitude was indicative of the way in which many of the ideas and policies
of Papandreou's anti-junta Panhellenic Liberation Movement (PAK) had
been inherited by his new party.
In the mid-1970s, under the new parliamentary system, PASOK's anti-
EC platform was an integral component of the dynamic, radical image
with which it overshadowed the pro-European traditional centre to become
the chief rival to the governing Nea Dimokratia. But with its emergence as
official opposition in the 1977 elections, PASOK entered a transitional
period in which it began to qualify many of its former attitudes in order to
attract broader support and prove itself a responsible party of government.
One of the key policy areas in which it continued to make radical
pronouncements while simultaneously signalling a new, less obdurate
stance was the EC.
Previously PASOK had refused even to discuss legislation pertaining to
Greek-EC relations. But in January 1978, its representatives' rhetoric
concerning the damaging nature of Western aid could not disguise the fact
that PASOK had voted in favour of the second financial protocol under
the Greek-EC Association Agreement. Subsequently, the June 1979
parliamentary debate to ratify Greece's membership treaty was used by
PASOK to attack neither the Community itself nor the policy of Greek
entry as such. Instead it castigated NO's allegedly undemocratic behaviour
in failing to hold a referendum before ceding national sovereignty to the
EC. This was typical of the way in which PASOK' s 'structural opposition'
Susannah Verney 135
to the entire political system, to use the term coined by leading party cadre
Kostas Simitis, was gradually being replaced by a vehement polemic
against the ND government.
The December 1979 decision to join the European Parliament's
Socialist Group after accession indicated a new attitude towards institu-
tional participation which stood in marked contrast to the spectacular
withdrawal from the Greece-EC Mixed Parliamentary Committee in
January 1977. Lest observers draw the wrong conclusions concerning the
party's new-found affinity with West European socialism, PASOK was
careful to maintain the correct ideological distance by remaining outside
the Confederation of Socialist Parties of the European Community. But at
the same time, the party's much-vaunted Mediterranean policy was also
acquiring a distinctly West European tinge. With the series of well-
publicised meetings with south European socialist leaders in 1980-81, the
old plan for a Mediterranean Economic Community embracing the
fraternal states of the North African shore was quietly replaced by a new
emphasis on Greece's four Mediterranean partners in the future enlarged
European Community.
Thus when PASOK formed its first government, its differentiation from
the Third World socialist positions of the mid-1970s was already
becoming apparent. What was not so clear was in precisely which
direction the party was now moving. In relation to the EC, the last phase in
opposition had seen the introduction of considerable ambiguity into the
party line. The 'special agreement' which PASOK had been demanding
since the end of 1978 had remained usefully vague. Subsequently, it
metamorphosed into the even more imprecise 'special relationship'. At no
stage was it specified whether this referred to a special status outside or
inside the EC, a factor which facilitated the shift from one option to the
other once PASOK itself had moved from opposition to government.
During the 1981 election campaign, PASOK's pledges on the EC
typified its more general promise to bring 'change', without explaining
either what this should entail or how it was to be achieved. The party
manifesto, The Contract with the People, devoted only one page to
Greek-EC relations, which was included in the section on economic
policy. The issue of the EC had now been completely separated from that
of NATO, which had been represented as the Community's alter ego in a
famous PASOK slogan of the mid-1970s. Now the main complaint
concerned NO's failure to use the legal possibilities supplied by the
accession treaty in order to protect Greek interests.
Concerning the future handling of Greek-EC relations, all PASOK
actually committed itself to was a struggle within the Community to
136 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
minimise its negative effects until a referendum could be held to choose
between full membership and the 'special agreement'. It is worth noting
that PASOK had not pledged withdrawal. Meanwhile, it was well known
that calling a referendum was the constitutional prerogative of president
Karamanlis and that, having made accession the foundation-stone of his
policy when in government, he was highly unlikely to accept a public vote
which might threaten his achievement in this area. Papandreou had
admitted as much in a speech at Chatham House in London in November
1980 when he had explained that in this case, his policy would be to seek
'special regulations' and then leave it up to the EC to decide whether it
would agree or whether it would 'drive us out like naughty children'.2
Consequently, in practice, the 1981 manifesto statement on the EC
amounted to a simple declaration in favour of defending national interests,
a position with which all forces, whether pro- or anti-EC, could be in


It became clear almost immediately after the 1981 election that PASOK
had no intention of reversing the status quo of accession. At the first EC
Council of Ministers meeting, only one week after the elections, the new
government made a statement concerning long-term Greek interests within
the Community framework. 3 The call for the consistent application of
Community preference, the demand that reform of the Common Agri-
cultural Policy (CAP) should not mean a reduction of income for
Mediterranean producers and, particularly, the stress on the need for a
more effective regional policy, were not the concerns of a government
intending withdrawal from the EC.
The referendum, while mentioned in the official government pro-
gramme read out in parliament a few weeks after the elections, was quietly
dropped in a matter of weeks, thus effectively sealing the route to
withdrawal from the Community. After his EC premiere at the London
Council of heads of state and government in November, Papandreou
noticeably stopped talking about the 'special relationship', instead refer-
ring to 'special regulations', which suggested something much less
structural and significant. The new formulation was developed into a
policy by the team around Grigoris Varfis, who became deputy foreign
minister responsible for EC affairs in November 1981.
The selection of Varfis in itself gave a fairly clear signal concerning
government intentions. It meant that Papandreou had entrusted relations
Susannah Verney 137

with the EC not to a high-level political cadre, much less to a party ideo-
logue, but to a technocrat with a knowledge of the subject. In the 1970s
V arfis, a former director of the Ministry of Coordination, had been a
leading member of the central negotiating committee which was handling
the accession talks. In January 1977 he had resigned, along with
committee President Nikos Kyriazidis, in protest against the ND gov-
ernment's political priority of achieving EC entry as soon as possible,
even if this meant less favourable terms in some economic sectors.
Subsequently, Varfis's replacement in January 1984 by the far more
flamboyant Pangalos, a PASOK Central Committee member, in practice
meant a political upgrading of EC affairs which gained higher visibility.
The vehemence of PASOK's earlier opposition to EC membership
meant that a U-turn on accession so soon after the election was a potential
political embarrassment. The solution to the problem was found with the
Greek government memorandum, submitted to the European Commission
in March 1982. While the memorandum has been described as 'a
Wilsonian renegotiation in all but name' ,4 it was never officially referred to
as such, partly because of the risks of entanglement in the Iberian accession
negotiations then under way. The memorandum made no demands. It
included no hints of a possible Greek withdrawal nor of less dramatic
sanctions, such as systematic treaty violations, if Greek aims were not
satisfied. While it referred to the development gap within the Community
and to the fact that its functioning tended to benefit the more developed
members, it was not infused by a 'Third Worldist' perspective. This was a
technocratic government document; not an ideological statement by an
opposition party. Instead, the memorandum politely cited the 'peculiarities'
and 'structural malformation' of the economy as grounds for increased
Community financial support and permission for temporary derogations
from EC rules. It did include some specific proposals, such as the founda-
tion of a new Community fund for the development of the Mediterranean
regions and the inclusion of Athens and Thessaloniki in Regional Fund
financing. But in general it raised the Greek problem at an official level,
leaving open the question of what kind of answer was expected.
The memorandum thus allowed the PASOK government to prevaricate.
Having passed the responsibility for the future of Greek-EC relations over
to the Community, it was then able to adopt a more or less permanent
'wait and see' stance. Of course, the memorandum in itself signalled that
PASOK had abandoned its objections to EC membership as a matter of
principle and was now seeking some technical readjustments which would
provide the political formula to justify its volte-face. Meanwhile, the
passage of time made withdrawal from the EC even more impractical, and
138 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
among the electorate, Greek membership of the Community became
increasingly widely accepted as a fact of life, especially once the
economic benefits started to become apparent.
The Commission's reply to the memorandum in March 1983 officially
rejected the Greek request for special treatment. In practice, it has been
pointed out that a de facto extension of the transition period was allowed,
through the imposition of a five-year 'regulatory tax' on certain categories
of imports. 5 Greece was also promised special additional funding, mainly
in the context of the Integrated Mediterranean Programmes (IMPs). This
was followed in June by the Stuttgart Council communique, in which the
European Council explicitly acknowledged that the Community should
play a role in helping Greece to overcome its problems, thus giving
Papandreou the opportunity to claim that Greece had achieved 'complete
success' in its aims.
From this point on, the PASOK government shifted its focus from the
'Greek peculiarities' to a more general call for greater redistribution of
resources within the Community. In practice, this came to more or less
the same thing - the lion's share of the IMP funding went to Greece, for
example. But it meant that Greece, which was now calling for
'convergence' of member states' economic development levels in order to
achieve greater 'cohesion' within the EC as a whole, had begun to express
its positions in a less insular and more Community-orientated terminology.
Instead of presenting Greece as a special case, there was now an attempt to
formulate Greek demands within the context of the wider discussion about
Community reform then underway in Western Europe.
From the time of the Stuttgart Council, Greek government circles began
to promote a new line on EC membership: that while accession had been a
mistake, especially on the terms negotiated by the previous ND govern-
ment, the cost of withdrawal was now higher than the cost of staying in.
But officially, right up until the Brussels Council of March 1985, PASOK
used the continuing negotiations on the IMPs, the EC's main response to
the memorandum, as an excuse to delay its verdict.
Thus the period from October 1981 until at least the spring of 1985 was
marked by a distinct disarticulation between words and deeds as far as
PASOK's EC policy was concerned. While it was clear that in practice,
there was no question of a Greek withdrawal, the PASOK government
scrupulously avoided making any formal admission that this was the case.
This was described by The Financial Times as a 'one foot in, one foot out'
This awkward stance became even harder to maintain following
Greece's panegyric assumption of the presidency of the Community's
Susannah Verney 139
Council of Ministers in the summer of 1983. While Papandreou proudly
declared that Greece had set itself the task of 'revising the Community
system as a whole' in order to 'lay the foundations for a new Europe' ,7 the
Greek government simultaneously declined to commit itself concerning
continued Community membership. Even during the campaign for the
1984 European Parliament elections, it managed to avoid making a
definitive declaration on the future of Greek-EC relations. Characteris-
tically, it was at a press conference after the Brussels Council in March
1985, apparently without any prior announcement, still less discussion, in
official party organs, that Papandreou finally declared that Greece was
now in the Community to stay.


During its first term in office, PASOK's tacit acceptance of the fait
accompli of accession often went no further than that. The government's
ambiguity towards continued membership, combined with the fact that
many PASOK cadres were slow to lose their ideological distaste for the
EC, often had unfortunate repercussions on the Greek stance within the
Community. It has been remarked, for example, that in the initial period
after the 1981 elections, the Greeks were often weak negotiators, who
either remained silent or took up ideological positions completely opposed
to national interests.8
The government often appeared unwilling to pay the cost of economic
integration. The memorandum, with its request for permission to deviate
from Community rules, marked one attempt to delay the consequences of
accession. Another example was value added tax, which Greece was
supposed to introduce on 1 January 1984. The government failed to make
adequate preparations and an extension was granted until January 1986.
Even this proved insufficient and a second extension had to be sought.
Finally, Greece introduced VAT on I January 1987, five years after its EC
entry and a full year after Spain, which implemented VAT from its first
day of membership in January 1986.
The constant requests for exceptions and postponements in the
application of Community law appeared to be made without any prioritisa-
tion of different sectors or evaluation of their relative importance for the
national interests. While all member states violate EC directives, or more
simply delay their incorporation into national law, the PASOK govern-
ment did so in sectors where the political and economic costs of
conforming were small or non-existent. Some observers have suggested
140 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
that such tactics were the result of government choice, reflecting
ideological bias, rather than of civil service inadequacies. However, those
with experience of Greece's bureaucratic structures might feel it likely that
the latter also played a significant role in Greek prevarication. Perhaps
more important, while the PASOK government successfully negotiated
important derogations from Community rules, such as the right to
maintain export subsidies until the end of 1986, it made very little use of
the time gained to help prepare the economy for the adjustments which
sooner or later would have to be made anyway. The postponements
seemed almost to become an end in themselves, rather than being part of
an overall economic strategy to help Greece face the realities of European
Indeed, PASOK's failure to assimilate the EC into its strategic thinking
is repeatedly evident. A startling early example was the first government
programme, which included a whole section on agricultural policy without
once mentioning the CAP. The five-year plan for 1983-88 also contained
minimal references to the Community, despite the all-pervading effects of
membership on the economy. PASOK's apparent lack of Community
spirit often seems to have been due to ignorance of Greece's obligations as
a member, rather than to a deliberate anti-EC stance. One example of a
major piece of legislation drawn up without apparently taking account of
Community law was the draft bill on the national pharmaceuticals
organisation, which had to be withdrawn because it violated the free-trade
provisions of the Treaty of Rome. The government also seems to have
been taken by surprise at the chill provoked in Greek-EC relations by its
action in January 1983 in devaluing the drachma and imposing a series of
import restrictions without even informing, let alone consulting, the
Commission first.


It has often been suggested that PASOK's persistent failure to take the EC
adequately into account was partly attributable to the fact that so many of
its prominent cadres had received their professional training in the United
States. Whether or not this was due to their American education, it is
certainly true that leading figures, like Arsenis and Papandreou himself,
seriously underestimated the EC's existing role and future potential. This
was particularly apparent in the political sphere.
Greece, a small state occupying a strategic geopolitical position, has
frequently attracted the attention of the 'foreign factor'. In the 1970s,
Susannah Verney 141
Karamanlis had declared that a major goal in taking Greece into the
European Community was to break the historical pattern of reliance on
'foreign protectors'. In contrast, PASOK vehemently rejected the
possibility that the EC might develop into a significant international actor
and that participation in the Community as a decision-making member
might increase Greece's own political weight. While in opposition,
PASOK had frequently dismissed the EC as no more than a customs union
with a common agricultural policy. Once in power, it seems that the
PASOK government continued to see the political aspects of integration as
at best secondary. Thus, it continually stressed that moves towards
political union had to be preceded by economic convergence, reducing the
development gap between richer and poorer member states.
Moreover, PASOK viewed political integration with suspicion as a
threat to national sovereignty, a possible means for the 'directorate' of
North European 'core' countries to further subjugate the 'peripheral'
South. Because of this, it was particularly opposed to the introduction of
majority voting in the Council of Ministers. It was on these grounds that in
1983 the PASOK Members of the European Parliament (EP) abstained
from the vote on the Spinelli Report which, together with the Draft Treaty
on European Union which followed it, was one of the EP's most important
contributions to the promotion of European Union. Party rapporteur
Spyros Plaskovitis explained that PASOK's reservations stemmed from
the conviction that abolishing every member state's right to exercise the
veto whenever it chose would set the seal on a 'two-speed Europe' in
which the rich and powerful would make the decisions.9 The party also
opposed the strengthening of European Political Cooperation (EPC) as an
attempt to limit a small state's right to determine its own foreign policy,
while the concept of a European defence policy was anathema.
Consequently, in the early 1980s the PASOK government contributed to
the dilution of initiatives for the acceleration of political integration. 1°For
example, although it signed the Genscher-Colombo proposals in June
1983, the Greek government requested that its reservations concerning the
key paragraphs on foreign policy and the veto be included in the official
minutes. Papandreou was especially insistent that this document should
not be seen as raising any barriers to each member state's right to shape its
own foreign policy as it saw fit. This indicated a misperception of EPC,
which appeared to be viewed as a potential repetition of the kind of
foreign intervention Greece had known in the past, instead of the then-
informal attempt to find a joint foreign policy position basically expressing
the lowest common denominator. It also suggested a lack of appreciation
of the possible benefits for Greece if the European Community of which it
142 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
is a part were to develop a more cohesive political identity, allowing it to
play a more influential role on the world stage.
This failure to grasp the European Community's potential in relation to
fundamental Greek national interests was particularly manifest following
the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982. The ensuing crisis
provided an obvious opportunity for a display of Community solidarity in
response to the violation of a member state's territory. This could have
created a precedent of particular significance for Greece, given that it was
the only EC member facing a direct and perennial external threat.
However, while the PASOK government initially signed an EPC
statement condemning Argentina, it subsequently abstained during a vote
in the United Nations. Given Greece's concern with the Turkish
occupation of Northern Cyprus, not to mention its well-known preference
for solving this problem through the UN, this apparent tolerance within
the UN towards military aggression against a fellow EC member could
only appear surprising. This action not only squandered the goodwill of
one of Greece's major EC partners in a particularly provocative fashion.
It also meant that while the PASOK government on the one hand was
pressing NATO to guarantee participating states' territory against attack
by other alliance members, on the other hand it had thrown away a
unique chance to advance the cause of a similar safeguard within the EC.
Other actions also suggested that the nature and possibilities of EPC
had not been properly evaluated. An example is the July 1983 proposal for
a six-month delay in the installation of Pershing and cruise missiles in
Western Europe. Not only was EPC clearly the wrong forum for this
proposal; but in addition, the suggestion that the Community was
competent to discuss this question apparently contradicted PASOK's own
position that security issues were outside the EC' s responsibilities.
During its early years, the PASOK government also made unusually
frequent use of the veto in EPC. It was probably inevitable that Greek
accession would reduce Community cohesion on foreign policy matters,
where Greek interests often diverged from those of other member states.
As a Balkan country, Greece was concerned to maintain good relations
with Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, as an Eastern Mediterranean state, it had
traditionally followed a pro-Arab policy. Greece's non-recognition of
Israel was the subject of questions in the European Parliament from its
earliest days of membership, and during the first months the ND
government had also differentiated its stance from that of its partners on
some Middle East questions. Thus PASOK's refusal, during its first term
in office, to accept EPC statements which implied a legitimation of Israel
Susannah Vemey 143
or acceptance of the Camp David agreements, was not necessarily
inconsistent with previous Greek government policy. But in contrast to
ND, PASOK deliberately raised the profile and tone of Greek dis-
agreements within EPC. Differences of opinion were not smoothed over or
played down, but often spectacularly emphasised, particularly in the case
of East-West relations.
PASOK's record in EPC can best be understood in the light of the role
which its 'proud and independent foreign policy' played in government
strategy. It has been suggested that Greece's lack of economic and
political resources meant that PASOK sometimes used its foreign policy to
compensate for improvements lacking in other sectors. 11 One analyst of
PASOK's first year in office has commented that despite the party's
election pledges, in policy terms 'there does not seem to have been all that
much change' . 11 Certainly in foreign policy, Greece had retained its
fundamental Western orientation as a member of both NATO and the EC.
Thus it has been suggested that the 'essential component' of PASOK's
foreign policy could be regarded as 'symbolism rather than substantive
change' .13 EPC was by no means the PASOK government's only platform
for symbolic acts designed to emphasise a change in Greece's former
status as a dependable ally of the West. Another example was the peace
initiative of the Six, which associated Greece with some major non-
aligned countries (Argentina, India, Mexico, Sweden and Tanzania). But
while it was possible to ignore the Six, through EPC Greece could directly
influence the EC's stance on important issues and hence its coherence and
weight within the international system.
The best-known example was the Korean jumbo-jet incident in
September 1983. Mter the Soviet Union shot down a civilian jet which
had violated its airspace, the Greek government insisted that an EPC
communique could not 'condemn' the incident, but should simply 'regret'
it. On this occasion, the veto proved particularly effective because Greece,
as president of the Council of Ministers, was responsible for expressing
EPC positions to the outside world. From PASOK's viewpoint, the airliner
incident provided a useful distraction from the recently-signed US bases
agreement, thus counterbalancing a substantial move towards the US with
a symbolic tilt towards the Soviet Union. On the other hand, the airliner
incident was a serious setback to the European Community's attempt to
find a common foreign-policy voice, and created a rift between Greece
and the EC. It was this affair, perhaps more than any other single incident,
which contributed to the creation of Greece's image as an unreliable
partner within the EC.
144 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade

As in the sphere of economic integration, so too in EPC the PASOK

government seems often to have exasperated its partners by adopting a
confrontational stance on issues which were not related to vital national
interests. In the long term, this had unfortunate consequences for Greece's
overall image within the Community and reduced the EC's patience in the
face of Greek problems, whether these were political, related to the
Greek-Turkish conflict, or economic development difficulties.
Internally, however, PASOK's EPC stance seems to have struck a chord
with a considerable section of the electorate. It is striking, for example,
that the normally sober weekly Oikonomikos Takhydromos reacted to the
first PASOK veto, on the sending of an EC peacekeeping force to Sinai in
November 1981, with the enthusiastic declaration that 'for the first time in
the modem history of the Greek nation' the government had been able to
play an effective role in the shaping of international policy. 14 In some
sense, PASOK's intransigence within the EC seemed to fulfil a
psychological need in Greece, whose current status as a small and eco-
nomically weak state on the margins of Western Europe sits uncom-
fortably beside the glories of its ancient and Byzantine pasts, and where
both the national humiliation over Cyprus in 1974 and the country's
modem history as an object of international politics remain particularly
sensitive points. Thus, as The Times perceptively commented, the fanfare
with which the PASOK government assumed the routine chore of the
presidency of the Council of Ministers in 1983 made the Greeks 'for the
first time in 155 years of modem statehood ... feel as equal Europeans' .15
A similar role of assuaging national pride seems to have been played by
the way in which Papandreou's first official appearance at an EC meeting
was reported in Greece. The London Council in November 1981 actually
marked a turning-point in PASOK's shift from the detachment of
opposition, with its abstract talk of dissociation from the EC, to practical
involvement in the continuous process of negotiation which is the
European Community. But refracted through the pro-government press,
the sober meeting of Community leaders described in the West European
media was transformed into something· approaching a Roman triumph.
Newspaper headlines presented the Council as a 'Battle point by point' in
which 'Andreas talked tough' and 'Greece imposed its positions' . 16
The theme of conflict and confrontation ran persistently through
PASOK' s presentation of its EC policy in the early years. Council meetings
were invariably reported in the terminology of battle, combat and struggle.
This was encapsulated by a 1984 European election poster which showed
Susannah Verney 145
two naked arms with bulging biceps engaged in an arm-wrestling contest,
conveying that PASOK meant strength in negotiations with the EC. Thus
PASOK represented the EC, not only as an alien body rather than as a
Community of which Greece was a member, but as a hostile alien body, a
consortium of interests antagonistic to Greece which had to be fought to the
last ditch. This 'us and them' approach again found an echo in Greek polit-
ical culture, where different historical and cultural roots have produced an
ambiguity towards Europe, of which Greeks feel they are part but not part.


The new phase in PASOK's EC policy was a key element of the more
general change of course with which the party inaugurated its second term
in office from June 1985 to June 1989. It is usually assumed that the
policy change was motivated by the economic crisis, which in the autumn
of 1985 led the government to implement an economic austerity policy
and apply to the EC for a loan. According to this interpretation, a more
accommodating EC policy was the consequence - and the price - of the
need for external economic support. Thus the 1.76 billion ECU loan
agreement negotiated in November 1985 has been described as 'a second
act of accession', which set Greek-EC relations on a new course. Former
economy minister Arsenis, on the other hand, has claimed that Papandreou
first decided to revise his stance towards the EC and the US, and this
necessitated a different economic policy. 17 Whatever the precise chain of
cause and effect, perhaps more significant is that in practice, the changes
in both sectors came together, once again suggesting the organic
relationship of EC affairs to other policy areas.
By the summer of 1985, conditions had matured for a new attitude
towards the EC. The inflow of Community funds had far exceeded
expectations. During the period 1981-85, net receipts from the EC were
already equivalent to 1.5 per cent of GDP, a figure which was to reach 4.9
per cent by 1989, PASOK's last year in office. 18 It has been estimated that
by 1987, Greek receipts from the Community's structural funds
represented 52 per cent of the external trade deficit, or 11 per cent of the
state budget deficit, or 19 times the country's public investment budget. 19
This level of direct financing was something the government could not
easily ignore, especially given its impact in rural regions - an important
area of PASOK support- where net agricultural income as a proportion of
non-agricultural income had risen from an average of 46 per cent in
1976--80 to 53 per cent in 1981-85.20
146 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
Besides these financial considerations, the advance of the European
integration process itself may well have supplied an important pressure
for policy change. In 1984 the solution of the British budget contribution
problem ended the previous intra-Community deadlock, thus allowing a
new step forward in the economic integration process with the 1985
agreement to proceed to a single internal market by the end of 1992. This
in turn gave a new momentum to political integration. In the report
produced by the Dooge Committee on institutional reform in March
1985, Greece along with Britain and Denmark opposed both the
extension of majority voting in Council and the calling of an inter-
governmental conference (IGC) to revise the EC treaties. At the Milan
Council in June 1985, all three states voted against the IGC. However, a
few days later, a Council of Ministers meeting decided by a simple
majority that those member states in favour would hold the IGC anyway.
This raised a prospect which Greece in particular had always feared: the
spectre of a 'two-speed Europe', in which an inner core of EC members
would proceed to a deeper level of integration among themselves,
marginalising those who were unable or unwilling to keep up. Within a
few weeks this possibility had led all three dissenting states to announce
that they would after all participate in the IGC.
In the Greek case, signs of a new approach towards the EC were already
apparent. As mentioned above, following the Brussels summit in March
1985 Papandreou finally declared officially that Greece was not going to
withdraw from the Community. Three months later, the Milan Council
revealed a change in the Greek attitude towards EPC. Although Papandreou
rejected the establishment of a permanent EPC Secretariat, at Milan he
accepted the need for the Community to develop a distinct identity in
external relations. Notably, he even agreed that EPC could cover security
issues, so long as this was related to the search for a European identity and
took Greece's special problems into account. This suggested that there had
been a re-evaluation of the nature of the Community and its potential
international role. Days after the Milan Council, PASOK won a convincing
victory in the June 1985 parliamentary elections. The fresh four-year
mandate made this an opportune moment for major policy changes. In the
same month, the Community's final approval of the IMP regulation could
be seen as a vindication of the memorandum, justifying a new attitude
towards the EC. The result was that, instead of being excluded from the
next stage of the integration process, Greece participated fully in the IGC
and signed the Single European Act (SEA) at the Luxembourg Council in
December 1985.
Susannah Verney 147
Its endorsement of the SEA meant that the PASOK government
accepted the aims of establishing the single market by the end of 1992, of
promoting European monetary cooperation and of expanding Community
activity into new sectors of social policy, research and technology, and
the environment. Of potentially even greater long-term significance, it
entailed consenting to the ultimate aim of transforming the existing
Community into a European Union. The acceptance of simplified
decision-making procedures meant that in relation to a whole series of
policy areas concerning the establishment of the single market, PASOK
had abandoned its former stand in defence of the veto. It also accepted
the institutionalisation of EPC, which was now included in the
Community treaties for the first time, while an EPC secretariat was
established in Brussels. Among other points, the SEA committed the
member states to an attempt to formulate and implement a common
European foreign policy, and to avoid any action which might damage
their effectiveness as a cohesive force in international relations and
international organisations. Of particular importance was the fact that the
SEA opened the way for a possible future expansion of EPC into security
In relation to PASOK's previous EC policy, its signature of the SEA
constituted a U-turn. As in the past, this does not seem to have been the
result of democratic procedures within the governing party, but rather the
personal choice of Papandreou, who instigated this major policy-switch
with no prior public debate. However, the government's insistence that
the only alternative to the EC loan would have been recourse to the IMF
on far harsher terms, seems to have helped to reconcile domestic public
opinion to the change of heart on the EC. In the following year, the
proportion of respondents to the European Community's Eurobarometer
surveys who felt that Greece had benefited from EC membership rose
quite dramatically, from 42 per cent in November 1985 to 50 per cent in
the spring of 1986 and 60 per cent by the autumn. 21 This appears to be the
point when the tide turned in Greek-EC relations. The change which had
taken place by the end of PASOK's second term was symbolised by the
way in which the party chose to depict its EC role on a 1989 European
election poster. This maintained the arm motif of the 1984 poster
mentioned above - but this time the arm was being held out for a hand-
shake and being used as a bridge for a representative sample of the Greek
population to march towards united Europe and 1992 with their heads held
high. The contrast between the image of conflict in the first poster and of
cooperation in the second hardly needs to be stressed.
148 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade

Its second term in office saw the completion of the metamorphosis in

PASOK's preferred public image, from national liberation movement to
West European socialist party. By the end of the decade, links with leaders
of parties formerly denounced as US stooges were being as widely
publicised as those with Arab and other Third World leaders a few years
earlier. Shortly before it fell from power, PASOK finally joined the
Confederation of Socialist Parties of the European Community, and sub-
sequently also applied to join the Socialist International. The new
solidarity with the fraternal parties of the European Community was
underlined by PASOK's formal adoption of the common Socialist Group
programme during the 1989 European election campaign.
In public statements on the Community, Papandreou continued to
promote the old line that Greece should never have entered the EC in the
first place, but that withdrawal would have been too damaging. But by the
time of the Copenhagen Council in December 1987, he was criticising
some of Greece's EC partners for their insufficiently pro-European
stance, claiming that instead of promoting political union they were
primarily interested in a free-trade area. In the summer of 1988, the
realignment between PASOK's official ideology and practice was
completed with the new ideological manifesto, 'PASOK before the past
and future of Greece' ,22 a discussion document prepared for the second
party congress. In contrast to the anti-Western sentiments of the founding
'Third of September Declaration', the new document unambiguously
proclaimed that 'Europe encapsulates our national prospect'. Signific-
antly, this manifesto was published only three months after the Greek
Communist Party (KKE) with its 'Theses on 1992' 23 appeared grudgingly
to accept the reality of Greece's West European orientation. The role
which PASOK's opposition to accession had played in the formation of
its initial image and electoral success had made it hard explicitly to
abandon this totem of its early radicalism as long as the KKE clung to its
ideological purity on this issue.
Indeed, throughout the period examined, the effect of the inter-party
environment on PASOK's EC policy should not be overlooked. The
Eurocommunist KKE-Esoterikou (Communist Party of the Interior) had a
more sophisticated European Community policy than the larger parties,
and on this particular issue seems to have made its views heard to an
extent disproportionate to its small size. However, the party lacked
Susannah Verney 149
widespread support and during PASOK's critical first term was not even
represented in parliament. This meant that PASOK's main opposition
came on one front from the KKE, with its sterile repetition of the
increasingly anachronistic demand for EC withdrawal, and on the other
from ND, which also made surprisingly little capital out of the
deficiencies of PASOK's EC policy. Despite its commitment to Europe,
in relation to the EC, ND generally tended to follow the Greek opposition
tradition of confronting the government over matters of high ideological
principle rather than by formulating detailed and specific alternative
policy proposals. Thus its EC statements tended to reiterate the party's
support for the Community and to stress how Karamanlis' s foresight in
achieving accession had now been justified by Papandreou' s change of
heart, rather than to address the 'mechanics' of West European integra-
tion and how the Greek government should respond. The KKE similarly
concentrated its opposition on the ideological level, focusing on denoun-
cing PASOK's 'sell-out' in not withdrawing from the Community. Not
until the 'Theses on 1992' did it ever suggest the need for a policy re-
sponse to developments at the broader European level.
Consequently, between the KKE's absolute opposition to Community
membership and NO's enthusiastic Europeanism, PASOK rarely had to
discuss or even specify its own strategy in relation to economic or
political integration. The highly ideological pre-accession debate
continued to cloud perceptions, obscuring the fact that the issue was no
longer whether or not Greece should be a Community member, or if the
previous ND government had achieved the optimum entry terms in the
1970s, but how Greece in the 1980s should respond to the new challenges
continually arising from the integration process. The result was the
passive stance with which Greece usually faced Community develop-
ments, and the predominantly pecuniary criteria by which success or
failure within the EC tended to be assessed. The European election
campaigns, in so far as they touched on EC issues at all in the midst of
heated confrontations over domestic policy, typified the level of debate.
In 1984 any discussion of EC policy focused on the narrow issue of
which party was capable of getting most money out of the Community.
Meanwhile, an examination of their 1989 election campaign literature
suggests that the major difference between PASOK and ND now lay in
their disagreement over which party deserved the historical credit for the
benefits which both agreed EC membership had brought Greece.
Discussion about the future was minimal to non-existent, with references
to the magic date of 1992 being purely symbolic.
150 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade

This presentation of PASOK's changing EC policy would remain in-

complete without some attempt at an overall assessment of its impact on
Greece. In relation to short-term financial inflows, the balance appears to
be positive. It seems likely that the advent to power of a party which had
so recently pursued such a vigorously anti-EC policy made Greece's
Community partners more disposed to adopt a conciliatory line. It would
have been difficult for the ND government, having negotiated the ac-
cession terms, to ask for the kind of concessions which PASOK obtained
through the memorandum negotiations. Of these gains, the Integrated
Mediterranean Programmes (IMPs) attracted most public attention. While
the IMPs had first been conceived before Greek accession, in the
prevailing climate of budgetary discipline it is questionable whether and
when they would have been implemented if the need had not arisen to
pacify the Greek government. Papandreou' s December 1984 threat to veto
Iberian accession until the IMPs were approved, was quite within the logic
of a Community in which all member states were expected to fight for
their own interests, and which in the previous year had seen Margaret
Thatcher torpedo one summit over the British budget contribution and
Irish prime minister Garrett Fitzgerald walk out of another over milk
During the 1980s, the PASOK government contributed to keeping the
need for increased support for the Mediterranean and other 'disadvantaged
regions' as a visible issue which was reasonably high on the Community
agenda. In this area, focal points of its policy were the support for a rise in
the Community's 'own resources' and particularly for an increase in Struc-
tural Fund financing, which was in fact doubled in 1988. Besides the IMPs,
the PASOK government's other major success in this sector was Article
130a of the SEA, which committed the EC to working towards
strengthening economic and social cohesion and to trying to reduce the
regional development gap.
But success in channelling more Community resources to Greece often
seemed to become an end in itself. All too frequently, the Greek gov-
ernment appeared unable to absorb the financial support it was offered or to
coordinate its use in a way that would help the country to adjust to the
challenge of Community competition. Of course, Greece's adjustment to
Community membership would have been difficult under any circum-
stances. In 1981, PASOK had inherited an economy with chronic structural
ills and a cumbersome and inefficient public bureaucracy. But during its
period in power, it either aggravated the problems, for example by large-
Susannah Verney 151
scale expansion of the public sector for clientelistic reasons, or else failed
to take decisive action where it was necessary.
A major lost opportunity, which has received insufficient attention
regarding its implications for Greece's position within the EC, occurred
when PASOK failed to fulfil its election pledges to decentralise. In an
immediate perspective, the excessive centralisation of the Greek state
appears to be dysfunctional for the planning and implementation of
development programmes on a rational basis, and therefore for the
effective absorption of Community funding. Taking a longer view, the
absence of elected regional government in Greece raises serious questions
concerning the country's future ability to fit into a Community whose
development programmes and policies are increasingly focused on the
sub-national level and on the promotion of transregionallinks. To return to
the opening theme concerning the interrelationship between EC affairs and
other policy sectors, many of the difficulties in Greece's EC membership
were related not just to PASOK's specific EC policy, but also to its more
general failure to bring about the extensive political and socioeconomic
modernisation which by the 1980s was already long overdue.
Thus, by 1989, when PASOK fell from power, Greece was already
struggling to keep up as the EC moved towards its single market. The dra-
matic downward slide of the economy during the course of the 1980s had
widened the development gap between Greece and the EC, with Greece
falling behind even Portugal on a number of development indices. For its
Community partners, this created the spectre of a permanent Greek pro-
blem, threatening a constant drain on the EC budget. Sympathy for Greece
became increasingly limited, and this was not helped by the PASOK
government's tendency to request more money while simultaneously dis-
regarding both EC rules and its partners' concerns in political cooperation.
To a certain extent, this stance may be regarded as characteristic of an
early 'immature' phase of Community membership. During its second
term in office, following the change in its EC policy, and despite some
notable exceptions, like the 1986 refusal to sign a joint statement
condemning Syria for attempting to blow up an Israeli airliner, the
PASOK government maintained a lower profile within EPC, where its
positions were now more in line with those of its partners. But by this
time, earlier incidents, notably the Korean airliner and the Falklands, had
already left a legacy of bitterness and an impression of Greece as an
untrustworthy partner, an impression which would be hard to overcome.
More recently, the 'Macedonian' controversy has served as a reminder
that Greece's interests in EPC do not always coincide with those of its
West European partners. While PASOK undoubtedly bears significant
152 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
responsibility for the negative reputation with which Greece ended the
1980s, the country's image within the EC has not substantially improved
since the pro-European ND came to power in 1990. This suggests that the
roots of Greece's difficulties in integrating into the EC lie deeper than the
policy of any particular party, in the structures of the political and
economic system. Greece was already wavering between 'integration' or
'marginalisation' 24 before the map of Europe began to be redrawn in 1989.
In the 1990s, it appears singularly ill-equipped to face the metamorphosis
of a European Community whose future direction remains the subject of
multiple scenarios.


l. Gerasimos Arsenis, Politild Katathesi (Athens, 1987), p. 168.

2. EleftMrotypia, 29 November 1980.
3. See P. K. Ioakeimidis, 0 MetaskhimDtismos tis EOK: Apo tin 'entoli' stin
Eniaia Evropaiki Prtui., (Athens, 1988), p. lSl-6.
4. The Guardian, 1 July 1983.
S. Loukas Tsoukalis, 'I ffilada kai i Bvropaiki Koinotita' in D. Konstas and C.
Tsardanidis (eds), Synlchroni Elliniki Exoteriki Politild (Athens, 1988), Vol. 1,
p. 214.
6. 6 May 1983.
7. Interview in 30 lours d'Europe, September 1983; Thessalonild, 7 December
8. Achilleas Mitsos, I Elliniki Viomikhania sti Diethni Agora (Athens, 1989), p.
399. Mitsos remarks that Community representatives he came into contact with
at this time were convinced this could only conceal some 'unknown but
certainly satanic Greek strategem'.
9. See Debates oftM European Parliament, 13 September 1983.
10. However, the Greek role was a minor one in comparison to that of Mrs
Thatcher's Britain, which blocked all reform until the question of the British
budget contribution had been resolved.
11. Heinz-Jurgen Axt, 'On the way to self-reliance? PASOK's government policy
in Greece', Journal of Modem Greek Studies, Vol. 2, no. 2, October 1984, p.
12. Dietrich Schlegel, 'Papandreou- a gain in predictability', Aussen Politik., Vol.
33, no. 4 (1982), p. 391.
13. Van Coufoudakis, 'Ideology and pragmatism in Greek foreign policy', Current
History, December 1982, p. 4Sl.
14. 19 November 1981.
IS. 2 July 1983.
16. Headlines from Ta Nea, Ethnos and Eleftherotypia, all quoted in Anti, 17
December 1981.
17. Arsenis, op. cit., 214-lS.
18. OBCD, Annual Report on Greece 1989190 (Paris: OBCD), p. 68.
19. Mitsos, op. cit., p. Sl6.
Susannah Verney 153
20. Napoleon Maravegias, I entaxi tis Elladas stin Evropailci Koinotita: Epiptoseis
ston agrotilco tomea (Athens, 1989), p. 494.
21. European Commission, Eurobarometer: Public opinion in the European
Community (Brussels: European Commission), nos 24, 25, 26.
22. Printed in full in Exormisi, 24 July 1988.
23. Published in Rizospastis, 24 March 1988.
24. Panos Kazakos, 'I Ellada anamesa s'ensomatosi kai perithoriopoiisi', in E.
Katsoulis, T. Giannitsis, P. Kazakos (eds), I Ellada pros to 2000 (Athens,
1988), pp. 489-516.
9 Beneath the Sound and the
Fury: US Relations with the
PASOK Government
John 0. Iatrides


The electoral victory of Andreas Papandreou' s Panellinio Sosialistiko

Kinima (PASOK) in October 1981 represented a major turning-point for
contemporary Greece. 1 In the realm of domestic politics it brought to power
a large component of the left, thereby redressing the imbalance caused by
the outcome of the civil war more than thirty years earlier, and offered the
promise of a more democratic, progressive and dynamic government.
Papandreou's credentials as a liberal economist gave rise to the hope that
bold reforms in matters of labour legislation, taxation, education and, above
all, sweeping decentralisation, would move the country's economy rapidly
toward greater efficiency, productivity and growth.
In retrospect, the socialists' impact on domestic affairs was hardly
breathtaking and the passage of time has done nothing to improve their
image as a supposedly reformist party.2 By contrast, in the area of foreign
policy PASOK's influence was considerable and charted courses which
future governments in Athens were almost certain to follow. Quietly
abandoning its earlier professed hostility toward the European Com-
munity, once in power PASOK missed no opportunity to acquire a
generous share of the Community's development programmes and to
advance Greece's presence in European affairs, at times irritating its
partners in the process. Although its highly publicised efforts to pursue
new initiatives in the Balkans, the Arab world, and among the non-
aligned produced few concrete results, they fostered the appearance of a
more independent and imaginative 'multi-dimensional' stance and
provided some substance to the assertion that Greece was no longer a
mere appendage of the Western community. In NATO, the PASOK
government presented its positions with a stridency and stubbornness that
produced headlines if nothing else. But the most significant readjustment
offoreign policy in the 1980s was in the area of relations with the United
States. 3
John 0. /atrides 155
This is not to suggest that, under PASOK, U~reek relations under-
went a sudden and total transformation. On the contrary, to a considerable
extent Papandreou's policies were the continuation of initiatives under-
taken by prime minister Konstantinos Karamanlis after 1974, when he was
called upon to fill the vacuum caused by the collapse of the colonels' junta
and to deal with the consequences of the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey. It
had been Karamanlis who suspended Greek participation in NATO
military commands and exercises and who brought Greece formally into
the EC, at least in part to reduce the country's dependence on the United
States.4 He had also sought to improve relations with the Soviet bloc and
proclaimed that the communist world no longer posed a serious threat to
Greece,5 upgraded diplomatic relations with many Arab states and allowed
the PLO to open an office in Athens. Yet for all its new initiatives, the Nea
Dimokratia government had remained steadfast in its conviction that the
United States was Greece's natural (if at times misguided) partner. In talks
with Soviet leaders Karamanlis had been careful to stress his
government's commitment to the Atlantic alliance, while in his dealings
with American officials he balanced his complaints with assurances of
loyalty and goodwill. 6 Papandreou's policies, on the other hand, reflected a
deeply-felt desire to liberate Greece from all its Cold War commitments
and turn it into a diplomatic free agent. Fundamentally anti-American, he
combined a revisionist interpretation of the causes of the East-West
conflict with the personal conviction that the United States flaunts its
power, is domineering towards its allies and insensitive to the pride and
aspirations of smaller nations. Thus, although US-Greek relations had
been strained before 1981, once in power PASOK brought the problems
into sharper relief and added to them a strong ideological veneer, making
them appear intractable.
In its relations with the United States the PASOK government benefited
greatly from a broad national consensus on the key foreign-policy issues
which, once again, had emerged in the late 1970s under Karamanlis. This
popular consensus, which Papandreou's pronouncements further crystal-
lised and which cut across the ideological spectrum, focused upon a
perceived Turkish threat not merely in Cyprus but in the entire Aegean
too. If the specific disputes were about searches for oil, the islands'
continental shelf, air traffic control, NATO plans for the defence of
Limnos, or the authority of the proposed headquarters at Larissa, the un-
derlying issue was the same: in the Greek view, the Aegean is a Greek
lake which Turkey is trying to pry away. In this confrontation, which
touches the very heart of Greece's sense of security, the overwhelming
majority of Greeks have felt abandoned by their principal ally.
156 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
Washington's attempts to avoid taking sides were viewed in Athens as
encouragement to the Turks. The fact that American officials privately
agreed with Greek positions (for example, on Limnos}, but would not say
so publicly, did nothing to improve matters. In short, US-Greek relations
became hostage to the Greek-Turkish feuding. As a senior Greek official
put it in 1983, relations between Athens and Washington 'pass through
Ankara....we always assess our various political moves vis-a-vis NATO and
the United States on the basis of their repercussions on Greek-Turkish
relations' .7 In a more oblique way, US-Greek relations had also remained
hostage to their own past. Greeks of every political persuasion, but
especially the left, resented American intervention in their domestic affairs
in the decades after the Second World War and blamed Washington for
many of the country's ills, including the recently-fallen military dic-
tatorship. A strong anti-American feeling permeated the political debate,
fanned by communist and PASOK rhetoric which sought to portray the
conservatives as the errand-boys of the American embassy in Athens.
These in turn were extremely sensitive on the subject and eager to prove
themselves no less capable of criticising the Americans. Thus in July 1985,
to the delight of PASOK circles, Nea Dimokratia spokesmen denounced
Ambassador-designate Robert Keeley for suggesting (at his confirmation
hearing) that 'for a couple of decades after World War II' a 'client-patron'
relationship had existed between Greece and the United States which,
Keeley made clear, was a thing of the past and no longer acceptable.8 Even
Karamanlis, now elevated to the presidency, who had been a principal
beneficiary of American policy in the 1950s, made Keeley feel his
Olympian wrath over the remark when, months later, the ambassador
presented his credentials.
As already indicated, long before its accession to power PASOK had
done much to strengthen the anti-American theme of the national
consensus which had emerged in the late 1970s over issues of security and
foreign policy. Indeed, PASOK's ideological platform and political tactics
had been based in large measure on a systematic criticism of American-
style capitalism and of Washington's policies not merely in Greece but
around the world. Moreover, Papandreou's confrontational style and
verbal pyrotechnics, including disparaging remarks about President
Ronald Reagan and references to the United States as the 'Mecca of
imperialism', threatened to add new burdens to an already frazzled
relationship between Athens and Washington once he had taken charge of
Greek policy. On the other side, Papandreou could count precious few
admirers among government officials and the foreign policy establishment
in Washington where he was regarded alternately as a dangerous oppor-
John 0. Iatrides 157
tunist, an irresponsible firebrand or a left-leaning ideologue. As early as
1966, an internal government memorandum described him as
politically naive, unscrupulous, unstable (with paranoiac tendencies),
venal, and above all, [with] such an overweening ambition that he
would resort to almost any means to achieve his ends. It is not necess-
ary, in this regard, to prove any firm attachments on his part to Commu-
nist or extreme-left groups. The significant fact is that he is prepared to
use them or is susceptible, perhaps, to being used by them. Furthermore,
the indications that Andreas would try to move Greece toward a non-
aligned, neutralist stance, should he have the opportunity, obviously
have serious implications for Greece's ties with NATO and especially
with the United States, whose rights to military and other special facili-
ties would be jeopardized. 9
Nor would the image improve with age. Two decades later (July 1985) a
senior analyst of an influential conservative foundation observed:
Washington tolerantly has ignored [prime minister] Papandreou's
stream of insults for far too long .... Papandreou must be told by the
Reagan administration that future anti-Western statements and actions
no longer will be cost free, but will generate serious consequences in
bilateral Greek-American relations. He should be warned privately that,
if he chooses to close US bases in Greece, their functions will be
transferred to Turkey .... Nor can Washington continue to legitimize a
regime that has become a leading anti-American cheerleader ....10
The American press was also almost uniformly hostile to Papandreou.
Editorials in the leading dailies, as well as in provincial newspapers across
the country, attacked him as a scoundrel and the one personally res-
ponsible for the strain in US-Greek relations. Even Flora Lewis of The
New York Times, hardly a seasoned observer of Greek affairs, could, in
early 1987, bring herself to declare with uncharacteristic bombast: 'Res-
ponsible Greeks should restrain their volatile prime minister or better, in
their own interest, find a statesman to replace him.' 11 Parenthetically, what-
ever the impact of the Greek lobby in the United States, it could, or would,
do nothing to deflect press attacks on Papandreou. 12 This excessively
personalised view of Greek foreign policy, which Papandreou's acerbic
style did much to foster, obscured the deeper causes of the disagreement
dividing the two governments and obstructed a more penetrating re-
examination of the relationship. Undoubtedly the PASOK leader made
diplomatic mistakes and aggravated unnecessarily the dialogue (for
example, his handling of the controversy surrounding the downing in 1983
of KAL Flight 007 by the Soviet Union), making it difficult for both sides
158 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
to concentrate on the principal bilateral issues at hand. Yet in their
essentials the policies pursued by Papandreou's government vis-a-vis the
United States were hardly his personal choices. On the contrary, they
accurately reflected the perceptions and priorities not merely of his political
and military advisers but of the public at large. It may thus be said of many
American commentators and government officials that, finding it easier to
attack the rude messenger, they chose to ignore the unpleasant message.


Because of the high-profile style and clashing political philosophies of

Ronald Reagan and Andreas Papandreou it is tempting to argue that in the
1980s US-Greek relations represented in some fashion a confrontation
between the personal 'revolutions' of these two leaders. 13 However,
President Reagan's strong Cold War language and worldview did not
translate into any interest in US-Greek relations and, in that instance, his
administration's policy remained firmly in the hands of officials in the
Departments of State and Defense, without input from the White House.
Ambassadors Monteagle Stearns and Robert Keeley were chosen for their
posting in Athens by the State Department in a normal procedure. Both
were seasoned career diplomats with extensive prior service in Greece,
and both knew Papandreou. Given the difficulties besetting US-Greek
relations, the appointments were viewed in the Department as important
but were not intended as a friendly gesture toward the PASOK gov-
ernment. Significantly, Secretary of State George Shultz had to fight for
Keeley's nomination: the White House had a candidate of its own, a
wealthy Greek-American businessman who had been a generous supporter
of the Republican Party but was without diplomatic experience.
In the Departments of State and Defense, Greek affairs remained the
responsibility of middle-level officials and the embassy in Athens was
allowed considerable leeway in handling the unfolding dialogue. In the
absence of major changes in US policy toward Greece and given that the
embassy included the American government's principal Greek specialists,
there was little need for Washington to provide frequent instructions. In
Athens, Steams and Keeley, by-passing as much as possible the Foreign
Ministry, took advantage of their easy access to Papandreou to conduct the
business of diplomacy at the highest level where they were treated
cordially. The embassy's task was nevertheless thankless and narrowly
prescribed. Papandreou could be charming and agreeable in private but
abrasive and hostile in his public pronouncements. Washington viewed its
John 0. Jatrides 159
relations with Greece through the well-worn prism of Cold War security
arrangements and NATO commitments and sought to prevent or deflect
any developments which threatened to weaken the alliance. The Papan-
dreou government, on the other hand, viewed Turkey, rather than the
Soviet Union, as the real adversary and chose to treat American and
NATO security concerns as outdated or largely irrelevant to Greece.
Athens expected Washington to sympathise with her security fears and to
work to ameliorate them, which the Reagan administration would not do.
Given the divergence of the fundamental positions of the two sides, the
American embassy's function was reduced largely to conflict manage-
ment, damage control and the skilful papering-over of a steady procession
of irritants. Stearns and Keeley softened Washington's criticism of the
Papandreou government, and tried to downplay PASOK's anti-American
tirades, but could not change the substance of the relationship. Suggestions
from the embassy that the United States undertake initiatives to im-
prove relations with Greece by searching for a framework for settling
Greek-Turkish disputes elicited no response from higher authority. At the
same time, the more hardline moves which added fuel to the fire, including
the travel advisory of July 1985, warning US citizens against travelling to
Greece, and charges in July 1987 that Greek government officials had
contacts with the Abu Nidal terrorist organisation were made in
Washington without prior consultation with the embassy in Athens.
On the other side, and while Papandreou's personal style left an
unmistakable imprint on how foreign policy was presented, key decisions
were taken by the highest echelon of PASOK's hierarchy. Career dip-
lomats were confined to the preparation of background papers and the
handling of routine matters, turning the direction of foreign relations into a
narrowly partisan process. In the past, Nea Dimokratia governments had
cultivated a small number of senior diplomats and had treated them as
members of the governing elite. PASOK, on the other hand, made no
effort to develop ideological ties with the professionals in the Foreign
Ministry, a good number of whom were holdovers from the Nea
Dimokratia and the junta years. Foreign minister Yannis Kharalam-
bopoulos was a close political ally of Papandreou and a member of the
PASOK inner circle, but his role in foreign affairs remained largely
ceremonial. Particularly in its dealings with the American embassy, the
government relied primarily on deputy foreign minister Yannis Kapsis, a
lesser star in the PASOK leadership. For his part, Kapsis, who lost some
of his authority when Karolos Papoulias succeeded Kharalambopoulos as
foreign minister, remained at heart the journalist he was by profession:
interested more in a policy's domestic appeal than in its substance. 14 As a
160 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
result, issues of interest to the US embassy handled by Kapsis were almost
invariably decided in a fashion unfavourable to the Americans. At times
Papandreou would give the impression that he had approved an embassy
request, only to have Kapsis refuse to act on it. In the realm of defence
policy generally, which remained the key issue in US-Greek relations,
Papandreou was strongly influenced by the armed forces leadership. For
example, on the matter of the stationing of troops on Limnos, controlling
Aegean airspace, and dividing responsibilities between NATO commands,
Papandreou essentially espoused the views of his military advisers.
Finally, US-Greek relations were frequently aggravated by statements
issued by PASOK spokesmen holding no government position. Although
technically not official, such pronouncements were no less authoritative -
or offensive - to the Americans. Thus, in April 1986, condemning the
American bombing of Libyan targets, a PASOK press release charged that
'the U.S. has dynamited peace and at the same time destroyed the inde-
pendence of a nation in the name of imposing its hegemonic presence in
the area'. 15 As expected, such statements elicited strong protests from
Washington and added to the American embassy's headaches.
As long as he was president, Karamanlis was regarded by the Americans
as a moderating influence on Papandreou's anti-American and anti-NATO
tendencies and one who could be counted upon to give their views a
sympathetic hearing in Athens. According to Kapsis, in 1983, Karamanlis,
concerned about angering the Americans, remonstrated with Papandreou
when the latter decided to protest NATO's policy on the Limnos issue by
boycotting certain of the alliance's exercises in the Aegean. 16 Through his
aide, Petros Molyviatis, Karamanlis may also have provided the American
embassy with helpful insights into Papandreou's motives and tactics. 17 On
the other hand, whether in fact Karamanlis succeeded in influencing in any
way the PASOK government's positions on matters of concern to the
United States cannot be ascertained at present.
Papandreou' s confrontational tactics and his determination to re-define
US-Greek relations were the most dramatic feature of Greek diplomacy
while PASOK was in power. In the end, however, the fundamental power
asymmetry in the relationship could not be altered. PASOK's dogma and
strategy dictated that the influence of the United States be removed as a
factor in Greek affairs. Yet this could not be done. Despite the growing
importance of the European Community for Greece on the one hand, and
the easing of Cold War tensions on the other, the United States continued
to be a key factor in Greek foreign policy concerns and the American
ambassador remained the most important foreign diplomat in Athens. The
contrast with the role of the Greek ambassador in Washington is stark and
John O.latrides 161
revealing. PASOK's wishes notwithstanding and in the face of the
perceived Turkish threat, Greek security interests required that Greece's
ties to the United States be preserved. Under these circumstances US-
Greek relations became a neverending exercise in thrust and parry, with
both sides careful not to strike a particularly bloody blow. Athens tried to
pressure the United States into taking action to alleviate Greek fears of
Turkey, while Washington sought to keep the relationship focused
narrowly on issues of military cooperation within existing agreements and
refused to engage in diplomatic brokering to cut the Gordian knot of the
Greek-Turkish conflict Given the diverging interestS and perceptions of
the two governments and the ups and downs in the Greek-Turkish dia-
logue, relations between the United States and Greece remained reasonably
stable. Beneath the sound and the fury a spirit of pragmatism ultimately
prevailed, although many practical problems continued unresolved.
It might also be argued that, however troubled and acrimonious the
relationship, in the end it was not without its considerable positive aspects.
For the Greeks, the PASOK government's anti-American posture had a
therapeutic effect and helped themrecover from the traumatic experience
of the junta years, fostering a sense of self-importance and self-reliance.
For the Americans their difficulties with the Papandreou government
underscored the fact that even small allies of marginal importance could
be prickly partners and that their particular needs have to be addressed
with much patience and diplomatic dexterity.


Many of the irritants in US-Greek relations during the years of PASOK

government were not of a bilateral nature. They resulted instead from
basic ideological incompatibility and from Papandreou's impetuous
criticism of American policy in general. Thus, early in his administration,
addressing a PASOK party conference, he referred to America as 'the
metropolis of imperialism' and implied that the United States no less thah
the Soviet Union was responsible for the Cold War. In what would
become an almost routine reaction the Department of State characterised
the statement as 'outrageous'. In September 1983, to the dismay of
American officials, the PASOK government vetoed a European Com-
munity statement condemning the Soviets for shooting down Korean
Airlines Flight 007. To make matters worse, Papandreou claimed that the
jetliner had been on a spy mission for the United States and asserted that
'if such a plane came into Greece, we would have downed it' .18 Following
his much-publicised official visit to Poland in October 1984, Papandreou
162 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
infuriated the Atlantic alliance when he expressed approval of General
Jaruzelski's crackdown on the Solidarity movement and criticised the
'capitalist regimes' for imposing economic sanctions on Poland. The
Greek prime minister's harsh condemnation of the Reagan administration
over the bombing of Libya in April 1986 (earlier Washington had accused
the Athens government of concealing information about Qaddafi's terrorist
activities) has already been mentioned. These pronouncements, and many
others like them, may have demonstrated the 'independence' of Greek
foreign policy and strengthened the PASOK leaders' sense of self-
importance but they were hardly designed to facilitate the handling of the
specific problems confronting the two governments.
In bilateral relations the focus of attention and the level of acrimony
shifted considerably over time. Until September 1983, when a new five-
year Defense and Economic Cooperation Agreement (DECA) was form-
ally concluded, the pivotal issue of the American bases in Greece
overshadowed all else. Since these military facilities represented the princi-
pal US investment in Greece, and since Papandreou had campaigned on
the promise to close down the bases, how the issue was resolved was bound
to affect US-Greek relations in their totality. Afterward, and until 1987,
when negotiations for a new bases agreement were resumed, a variety of
issues were addressed. Among them, the dominant point of friction was the
American charge that Greece was uncooperative (or worse) in combating
international terrorism. Clearly, the signing of the 1983 DECA helped to
stabilise the relationship, which nevertheless remained prickly. Despite
occasional verbal pyrotechnics, a number of senior American officials
visited Athens for consultations, including Secretary of Defense Caspar
Weinberger in April 1984, and Secretary of State George Shultz in May
1986. Significantly, Papandreou's fervent wish for an official invitation to
visit Washington remained unfulfilled. Although anxious to preserve
bilateral relations, the Reagan administration would do nothing to enhance
the stature of its persistent detractor in Athens.
For the PASOK government the issue of the bases, which pre-election
rhetoric had turned into the symbol of the promised 'new' foreign policy,
became the centrepiece of a complex bargaining position which attempted
to link together a number of distinct but interrelated needs. Parenthetically,
much of this position had been defined by the Nea Dimokratia government
before 1981, when the negotiations were overtaken by the approaching
Greek elections, but it was left to the PASOK government to reach a
mutually acceptable agreement In return for permitting the bases to re-
main, Athens expected continued American support for the supply and
modernisation of the Greek armed forces, especially the air force, as well
as military assistance in general. In addition it sought to secure an
John 0. latrides 163
American endorsement of Greek demands concerning NATO commands,
exercises and operational plans for the Aegean. Finally, it hoped to extract
a formal guarantee against Turkish aggression.
Obviously, Greece's only bargaining chip was the often-voiced threat to
close down the bases and further decouple its armed forces from NATO.
However, as the PASOK leadership understood only too well, such threats
were not credible: if they were carried out, Greece would find itself even
more isolated in its confrontation with Turkey. Moreover, if pressed too
hard, the Americans might relocate their bases elsewhere and Greece
might be deprived of essential military assistance of every kind. In the
end, the DECA dealt narrowly with the issue of the bases, which were to
remain open for another five years, with cosmetic changes in matters of
command and control and in the status of forces jurisdiction. More
importantly, the agreement provided assurances that the United States
would see to it that the prevailing balance of military strength between
Greece and Turkey would be preserved. However, while American
military requirements were met, the PASOK government, engaging in
semantic contortions, heralded the agreement as the first step toward the
complete removal of the bases from Greek soil. 19
As a problem in US-Greek relations, terrorism needs to be considered at
several different levels. By most American accounts, the PASOK govern-
ment was fully cooperative and diligent in protecting the US ambassador
and the embassy building. However, protection of American officials out-
side the embassy grounds and security at the Athens airport were thought to
be less than adequate. Some American diplomats believed that the problems
were caused by Greek inattention to detail or outright incompetence; others
thought the PASOK government was deliberately showing its indifference
to Washington's wishes. More irritating in the American view was the
refusal of the Greek authorities to cooperate closely with the United States
and other Western governments in countering international terrorism.
American officials were especially perturbed by the PASOK government's
handling of several extradition cases of suspected terrorists.
Many bilateral issues of lesser consequence (although no less trouble-
some for the US embassy officials who handled them!) also added their
particular measure of irritation. At the bases there were many complaints
by the Greek civilian employees and even more by the Americans whose
requests for additional buildings or repairs were obstructed or rejected.
While a new General Security of Military Information Agreement was
concluded, the future of the Voice of America relay stations remained
unresolved. There were numerous Greek complaints of violations of
airspace by American military aircraft and of visits to Greek ports by
164 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
American nuclear warships. The defection of a major KGB official in
Athens was handled expeditiously and smoothly. On the other hand, the
PASOK government appeared less than anxious to prosecute several
Greeks accused by the KGB defector of having spied for the Soviet Union.
Washington complained that American companies bidding to build frigates
for the Greek navy and planes for Olympic Airways were discriminated
against and that American businesses and private educational institutions in
Greece were treated unfairly. There were also protests over Greek votes in
the United Nations and over Greece's relations with certain Arab states and
the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. At any given moment, one or
several of these issues might dominate the agenda of US-Greek negotia-
tions and add to the generally frigid atmosphere in which they were
conducted. But if many of these problems could not be resolved, they were
not allowed seriously to damage an already frayed relationship. Nor was
the failure to agree on many of these issues PASOK's doing: most
remained unsettled after PASOK had ceased to be in power.


In the 1980s, PASOK's fundamentally anti-American dogma and the

confrontational tactics of the Papandreou government added considerable
irritation to US--Greek relations, already strained since the fall of the
Greek junta in 1974, Turkey's invasion of Cyprus, and Karamanlis's
decision to withdraw Greek officers from NATO commands. The PASOK
government found it politically expedient to condemn the foreign policy of
the Reagan administration at every opportunity, while at the same time
expecting American officials to accommodate Greece in its feuds with
Turkey over Cyprus and the Aegean. For its part, Washington paid no
particular attention to Greece but continued to base its policy toward its
small ally on narrowly-defined collective defence considerations dictated
by the logic of the Cold War. In return for military assistance and other
payments, it expected the PASOK government to live up to its NATO
obligations and permit the existing American bases to remain on Greek
soil. Beyond the acceptance of a certain balance in the military assistance
it provided to Greece and Turkey, the United States refused to be drawn
into the squabbles of its two lesser allies. Moreover, from time to time the
Reagan administration gave public vent to its displeasure and frustration
with the Papandreou government.
However, despite the almost continuous acrimony, both sides sought to
avoid a further deterioration in the relationship which would have done
John 0. latrides 165
serious harm to their respective interests. They opted for a dialogue of the
deaf on the issues they could not resolve and for a grudging modus
vivendi. This arrangement, which served the more fundamental concerns
of both sides, was greatly facilitated by the readiness of prime minister
Papandreou to maintain a good working relationship with the US ambas-
sador in Athens and by the diplomatic dexterity of ambassadors Steams
and Keeley who, most of the time, succeeded in putting a reasonably good
face on irritating and difficult situations.
In the short run, PASOK's impact on US-Greek relations was clearly
negative. By intentionally raising the level of friction and choosing an ideo-
logically-charged posture, it made bilateral relations more difficult to man-
age and obscured even more any possible common ground and any basis for
accommodation. Yet the real damage was neither serious nor lasting. More-
over, it can be argued that, in the long run, the harsh dialogue of the 1980s
helped establish a more realistic basis for bilateral relations as both sides
continued to rid themselves of their illusions about each other. In particular,
Athens and Washington came to the realisation that their respective interests
often diverged and that they could not count on the other's support except in
limited and increasingly shrinking areas. For the Greeks, the lesson was
clear: in facing their principal adversary, Turkey, they could not count on
substantive American support. For the Americans, it became painfully
obvious that the usefulness of Greece in matters of collective security - the
only reason American administrations took an interest in Greece - was
highly questionable and likely to diminish further in the post-Cold War era.
As a result, the importance of US-Greek relations for both sides
declined dramatically in the 1980s and both are looking elsewhere for
more fruitful power alignments. This development, combined with the
electoral defeat of PASOK, should open the way to a more distant and
more friction-free relationship between the United States and Greece.


1. This essay is based in part on infonnation and analysis provided by a number of

individuals who were directly involved in the conduct of US-Greek relations during
the 1980s. I am especially grateful for the valuable assistance I received from Alan
Berlind, Robert V. Keeley, Charles W. McCaskill Sr, Monteagle Stearns and
Constantine Zeppos. Of course, responsibility for the accuracy of facts and opinion
contained here is mine alone.
2. For critical evaluations of the PASOK government's performance in the economic
sector, see in particular Louis Lefeber, 'The socialist experience in Greece',
International Journal of Political Economy, xix (1989-90), pp. 32-55, and Judith
Kleinman, 'Socialist policies and the free market: an evaluation of PASOK's
166 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
economic performance', in Nikolaos A. Stavrou (ed.), Greece under Socialism. A
NATO ally adrift (New Rochelle, NY, 1988), pp. 187-219.
3. The literature on PASOK's foreign policy is already extensive. For sharply differing
views see Yannis Kapsis, 'Philosophy and goals of PASOK's foreign policy', in
Stavrou, Greece under Socialism, pp. 41-62; John C. Loulis, 'Papandreou's foreign
policy', Foreign Affairs, lxiii (I 984/85), pp. 375-91; Constantine Melakopides, 'The
logic of Papandreou's foreign policy' ,International Journal, xlii (1987), pp. 559-84;
Robert I. Pranger, 'U.S.--Greek relations under PASOK', in Stavrou, Greece under
Socialism, pp. 251-79.
4. John 0. Iatrides, 'Greece and the United States: the strained partnership', in Richard
Clogg (ed.), Greece in the 1980s, (London, 1983), pp. 150-72.
5. C. M. Woodhouse, Karamanlis: The restorer of Greek democracy (Oxford, 1982),
6. Woodhouse, p. 266; Demetres Michalopoulos, 'PASOK and the eastern bloc: A
growing relationship', in Stavrou, Greece under Socialism, pp. 348-51.
7. Athens News Agency, 14 October 1983.
8. Keeley had said: 'We did a great deal for Greece and carne to their rescue after World
War II and did a great deal to help that country get back on its feet. But inevitably that
creates somewhat of a client relationship, a dependency relationship and they want to
get away from that. And they quite rightly should because it is a country that is much
stronger economically and militarily in every way and can take better care of its own
security. It doesn't need as much help as we used to give it and that means we don't
need to be as involved as we used to. And I think we can perhaps establish a new
basis for a different kind of friendship and different relationship of, let's say, more
equal allies rather than client-patron, which is what the history of our relations with
Greece was for a couple of decades after World War II .. .'. For reaction in Athens,
complete with an 'open letter to Mr. Keeley', see I Vradyni, 31 July 1985.
9. Department of State, NEA/GTI, 'Andreas Papandreou: what he portends for Greece
and Greek-US Relations', 25 April 1966, Papers of Charilaos G. Lagoudakis, Boston
University Library.
10. James A. Phillips, 'US-Greece relations: an agonising reappraisal', Backgrounder,
The Heritage Foundation, no. 445, 18 July 1985.
11. New YorkTimes,30March 1987.
12. On the Greek-American community's reactions to the Papandreou government, see
James G. Pyrros, 'PASOK and the Greek Americans: origins and development', in
Stavrou, Greece under Socialism, pp. 221-50.
13. Pranger, pp. 251-2.
14. For his own account, see Yannis P. Kapsis, Oi 3 Meres tou Marti (Athens, 1990).
15. Charles W. McCaskill, 'PASOK's Third World/nonaligned relations', in Stavrou,
Greece under Socialism, p. 324.
16. Kapsis, pp. 277-8.
17. Ibid.
18. Pyrros, p. 247.
19. Text of the agreement released by the Athens News Agency, 10 September 1983; text
of Kapsis press conference of 12 September 1983 released by the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (typescript). When the five-year agreement expired in December 1988, and
talks for its renewal were bogged down, the PASOK government announced that,
under the terms of the 1983 pact, the bases would be removed by May 1990. Because
of the national elections in 1989 and I 990, the Greek parliament extended the
deadline for the bases' closing to November 1990. In January 1990 the United States
decided to shut down the Ellenikon air base and the naval communications installation
at Nea Makri. In July 1990, three months after taking office, the conservative Nea
Dimokratia government signed a new, eight-year defence cooperation agreement
which provided for the continued operation of the remaining American bases.
10 PASOK and Greek-
Turkish Relations
Van Coufoudakis

Founded on 3 September 1974, PASOK in 1981 became the first major

socialist party to compete in elections and win power in Greece. The
party's roots and early ideological pronouncements can be traced to PAK. 1
This is why PASOK, prior to 1980, had often been compared to its Third
World counterparts rather than to other Euro-socialist parties. The per-
sonal political experiences and outlook of its charismatic founder, Andreas
Papandreou, shaped the party's positions on foreign and domestic policy
This chapter highlights PASOK's policies on Greek-Turkish relations
and the Cyprus problem. It does not, however, provide a detailed account
of developments in the relations of the three states. It also examines the
party's transition from ideology to pragmatism, as PASOK evolved from a
minor opposition party in 1974, to the major opposition party in the Greek
parliament in 1977, and eventually assumed the government of Greece in
1981. Further, the chapter argues that rigid ideological positions on for-
eign policy issues in general, and Greek-Turkish relations in particular,
served several objectives, including those of: (a) popular mobilisation;
(b) the definition of PASOK's differences vis-a-vis other political parties
and particularly the conservatives, who were accused of being vehicles of
foreign interference and dependence; (c) the establishment of the party's
nationalist credentials, and of its readiness to defend national interests.
This was an important objective in view of the negative image of so-
cialism in Greece after decades of Cold War propaganda; and (d) the
communication of these differences to domestic and external audiences.
However, rigid declaratory pronouncements did create difficulties for
PASOK in a number of areas. Pragmatic necessity required the adoption
of operational policies that appeared to be inconsistent with its ideological
platform. Even though PASOK's charismatic leader attempted to provide
reasonable explanations of his policy adaptation, his domestic and foreign
critics were able to question the credibility and consistency of his policies.
Further, rigid declaratory pronouncements provided Papandreou's critics
with the opportunity to place the blame for the lack of resolution of

168 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
Greek-Turkish issues and the Cyprus problem on the intransigence of
Greek policy, and to rationalise and justify Turkey's policies on these
issues. The chapter concludes with observations on the implications of the
PASOK era for the future of Greek-Turkish relations and Cyprus.



PASOK's image as a party ready to offer responsible government had

emerged by 1977. This was evidenced in the pragmatic transformation of
its 1977 electoral platform, which moved away from ideological rigidity
and absoluteness. This pragmatic adaptation reflected the recognition that
the road to political power passed through the centre of the political
spectrum. Thus, the party in power had to be able to provide stability, and
not to undermine the political, social and economic gains enjoyed by the
middle class. In the past, foreign-policy adventures had ruined Greece
financially, destabilised it politically, and opened the way to foreign
intervention in Greek affairs. 2
Other reasons accounting for PASOK's pragmatism included: (a) the
state of the international system. While socialist parties were elected to
office in Southern Europe, conservatives were consolidating their hold in
influential countries such as the Federal Republic of Germany, the United
Kingdom and the United States; (b) economic conditions, which required
reliance on the European Community and American financial sources.
These conditions included the Greek-Turkish confrontation, which
necessitated high levels of military expenditures; the effects on Greece of
the world-wide economic recession; and the need to finance domestic
deficits; (c) the continuing dependence primarily on the United States, for
high-technology military weapons in order to maintain the balance of
power with Turkey; (d) the fact that Greece was in NATO and had
American bases on its soil. With rising tensions in Southwest Asia and the
Persian Gulf, Greece could not afford to see the balance shift towards
Turkey, given the strategic value assigned to that country by both super-
powers; and (e) the presence of domestic stabilisers, such as the president
of Greece Konstantinos Kararnanlis, and the nationalist-minded armed
forces. Even though the military had been discredited by the dictatorship
of 1967-74 and the 1974 events in Cyprus, they remained an influential
factor in national security and foreign-policy matters, and shared the con-
sensus about the Turkish threat.
Van Coufoudakis 169

Dependency theory 3 provided PASOK's analytical and explanatory

framework for the domestic and foreign policy problems confronting
Greece, including the whole range of Greek-Turkish relations and Cyprus.
In turn, the perceived pro-Turkish behaviour of both superpowers and of
NATO, confirmed the party's positions on Greek-Turkish issues, and gave
PASOK the opportunity to accuse postwar conservative Greek govern-
ments of being subservient to the US and NATO, and of sacrificing Greek
interests in favour of Turkey in negotiations instigated by the US and
The main issues affecting Greek-Turkish relations had already been
defined by the time PASOK was formed in the autumn of 1974.4
PASOK's claim that Turkey's expansionist policies posed a vital threat to
Greece, reflected the foreign policy consensus that had emerged in Greece
after the 1974 invasion of Cyprus. This consensus cut across the ideo-
logical spectrum, and was shared by all opinion-makers. The party was
successful in articulating these issues, and in defending policies that would
not compromise Greek sovereignty, territorial integrity and rights enjoyed
under international law, treaties and practice. Once in power, PASOK's
handling of Greek-Turkish relations was based on a careful balancing of
ideological positions and pragmatic policy considerations.
The following summary includes some of PASOK's key declaratory
positions on Greek-Turkish relations. First, the threat facing Greece is from
the east, i.e. Turkey, 5 and not from the north, i.e. the Soviet Union and the
Balkan communist countries. Despite the threat posed by Turkey, the West
refused to provide any guarantees for the protection of Greek sovereignty
and territorial integrity. Second, in view of Turkey's claims against Greece
and aggressive actions in Cyprus, Turkey posed a threat to Hellenism at
large. Third, the pro-Turkish favoritism of the US and NATO created a
divergence in the interests of Greece and its allies that threatened vital
Greek interests. Consequently, Greece would not proceed with the
implementation of portions of the 1980 Rogers agreement for the
reintegration of Greece in NAT0,6 nor would she participate in any NATO
manoeuvres in the Aegean that did not follow earlier arrangements and
excluded the island of Limnos. 7 Fourth, a dialogue between Greece and
Turkey was possible only if Greek sovereignty and other legal rights were
not affected. This was best expressed by the statement that Greece asks
nothing of Turkey but friendship, but not at the expense of an inch of Greek
soil. Thus PASOK accused the West of pressing Greek conservative
170 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
governments to engage in negotiations with Turkey in order to serve
NATO's regional objectives. It also criticised the conciliatory negotiation
policy of prime minister Karamanlis as an indication of weakness and lack
of resolve on the part of Greece that compromised Greek interests and
established rights. According to PASOK, then, a dialogue with Turkey
would not be possible until Turkish provocations ended, and as long as
Turkish occupation forces remained in Cyprus. The latter position was to
haunt PASOK once the Davos process got under way in January 1988.


Since 1974, PASOK's declaratory positions on Cyprus have been con-

sistent, and have reflected the fundamental assumption that Turkey is a
threat to Hellenism at large, and that the US and NATO were directly re-
sponsible for the 1974 Turkish invasion and for the continuing occupation
of Cyprus. In the latter case, Papandreou had long argued that since the
early 1950s, American and NATO policy has had as its primary objective
the partition of Cyprus and its transformation into 'an advanced post for the
promotion of imperialist plans' in the Eastern Mediterranean and the
Middle East.8
PASOK was also emphatic that the Cyprus issue is one of invasion and
occupation by Turkey. This is why the Cyprus governments and the
conservative governments of Greece were criticised for adopting the
American and Turkish approach to the problem by reducing it to one of
intercommunal relations and negotiations. PASOK argued that although
the Cyprus problem affected Greek-Turkish relations, it was not a
Greek-Turkish problem. Nor was Cyprus a NATO problem. In contrast
to the conservatives, PASOK advocated that the Cyprus problem be
resolved in the context of the .UN resolutions on Cyprus; that an
international conference on Cyprus be convened to deal with the
international aspects of the problem; and that Greece and Cyprus pursue a
policy of internationalisation. The last position in particular created
problems in the relations of Greece with both the right wing and the
communists in Cyprus, who appeared to prefer the approach of the
intercommunal dialogue.
In contrast to the policy of Nea Dimokratia, PASOK advocated that
Cyprus should be a foreign policy priority, and made it so. Consequently,
it took certain symbolic and visible steps to emphasise this commitment.
This included prime minister Papandreou's visit to Cyprus in February
Van Coufoudakis 171
1982, the first-ever by a Greek prime minister, and the use of such terms
as symparataxi to describe its support of Cyprus,9 instead of symparastasi,
the term used by the conservatives. Greece also repeatedly raised the
Cyprus issue in international fora, such as the European Community and
NATO. In view of the continuing occupation of Cyprus, prime minister
Papandreou regularly declared, prior to 1988, that there would be no
dialogue with Turkey on the issues that were open to negotiation as long
as Turkish troops remained in Cyprus. Finally, PASOK pledged to open
the 'Cyprus file', the record of evidence relating to Greece's involvement
in the events in Cyprus during the summer of 1974.



Despite the strong declaratory positions adopted by PASOK both prior to,
and after, its assumption of power in 1981, its operational policy on
Greek-Turkish matters displayed continuity with that of its predecessors,
i.e. moderation, pragmatism and firmness. It also reflected the post-1974
consensus that had emerged in Greece on this subject. However, it intro-
duced some symbolic and stylistic changes in an attempt to signal to both
domestic and external audiences that Greek foreign policy had changed.
The emphasis given to the declaratory rather than the operational
components of policy towards Turkey, both by domestic and external
audiences, gave the opportunity to Papandreou' s critics to attribute the
lack of resolution of Greek-Turkish problems and Cyprus to Greece's
intransigence. Thus, inadvertently, Papandreou's declaratory policy may
have served Turkey's objectives. However, Papandreou's critics appear to
have forgotten that Karamanlis's moderation during six years of
Greek-Turkish negotiations between 1974 and 1980 had not resulted in a
resolution of any of these problems either.
This blend of declaratory and pragmatic operational policy made Turkish
officials suspicious, however. 10 Greece had not behaved in such an
independent manner toward her allies in the past. Turkey therefore feared
that the Western community would show greater sensitivity towards
Greek interests in order to pacify the 'bad boy' of the alliance and thus
subvert Turkish interests. Western and Turkish misperceptions about
Papandreou were never overcome during PASOK's eight years in office.
Turkish prime minister Turgut Ozal understood Papandreou's populism, but
also considered him a rogue.
172 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
Papandreou's pragmatism became evident soon after the 1981 election,
and remained in effect throughout his two terms as prime minister, despite
continued Turkish provocations in the Aegean and Cyprus. This tempering
of ideology with pragmatism was manifested in various ways. Following
the 1981 elections, Papandreou extended an 'olive branch' to Turkey,
opening the door to negotiations where legitimate differences existed.
Following quiet diplomatic contacts, the two sides met in Bonn during the
June 1982 NATO meeting, and agreed on formal discussions that led to
the 22 July 1982 announcement of a moratorium on provocative actions
and statements in order to create a climate conducive to substantive
negotiations. This goodwill gesture ended in failure, following massive
violations of Greek airspace by Turkey, and the cancellation of a
November 1982 NATO exercise over the issue of Limnos. During this
shortlived moratorium Papandreou continued to advocate his declaratory
policies on Greek-Turkish issues and Cyprus, both at home and in
international fora, and to seek Western guarantees against the threat from
Other manifestations of pragmatism in his operational policy could be
found in the sensitive issue of the possible extension of Greek territorial
waters from six to twelve miles, 11 and Turkey's unilateral actions in
Cyprus. Papandreou did not break diplomatic relations with Turkey
following the November 1983 unilateral declaration of independence
by the Turkish Cypriots, and the recognition extended by Turkey to
Denktash's pseudo-state. This event, however, froze Greek-Turkish
relations until the March 1987 crisis in the Northern Aegean, and ended all
forms of dialogue between the two countries.
The lack of responsiveness by Turkey to Papandreou's pragmatic policy
did not contribute to any movement on any of the outstanding issues prior
to the 1988 Davos meeting. Nor did Greek pragmatism induce any change
in allied or superpower policy toward Greece and Turkey .12 Had Turkey
been responsive to Papandreou's overtures, and presented reasonable
claims in areas of legitimate differences, he could have sold a negotiated
solution to the public, given his popularity, especially during his first term,
and his strong nationalist image. 13 Papandreou's ability to deal with these
issues weakened considerably after 1988, following the domestic
problems that confronted his party and the difficulties in his personal life.
For a brief period of time, during the March 1987 crisis in the Northern
Aegean, 14 Papandreou's firm crisis-management appears to have been
based on the party's declaratory positions. Even though his rhetoric
evoked images of his 1976 calls to 'sink the Chora',1.5 the government's
policy remained pragmatic throughout the crisis. The determined Greek
Van Coufoudakis 173
military response, the temporary closing of the Nea Makri American
military base, 16 the strong warnings to Greece's allies regarding the threat
of armed conflict, and the foreign minister's urgent trip to Bulgaria for
'consultations', marked a turning-point in Greek-Turkish relations under
Papandreou. Once the crisis was defused, Greece and Turkey initiated
high-level contacts intended to lead to a serious discussion of their
differences. This, then, was the first serious attempt at a full dialogue
between Greece and Turkey following the abortive moratorium of 1982.
However, some critics of Papandreou were quick to point out that the
lesson of this crisis for Turkey was that brinkmanship pays, by forcing
Papandreou into negotiations on all issues. Others, like the Greek
ambassador to the United Nations, Michalis Dountas, in an astute assess-
ment of the crisis and its aftermath, felt that Greece's allies, along with
Turkey, used this crisis as a catalyst to bring about Greek-Turkish
. .
negotiations .
on all Issues. 17



Between 1 April 1987, and 25 September 1987, prime ministers Papan-

dreou and Ozal engaged in an exchange of secret communications 18 over
Greek-Turkish relations. These communications opened the way for the
meeting at Davos, Switzerland, between the two prime ministers. All
available evidence, including the testimony of alternate foreign minister
Yannis P. Kapsis, points to the fact that decisions during this critical
period in Greek-Turkish relations, and particularly from September 1987
to the Davos meeting at the end of January 1988, were made at the highest
level involving Papandreou and his immediate advisers. This was an
affirmation of a worldwide trend towards executive control of foreign
policy, something that had also been practised earlier in Greece. 19 In the
case of Papandreou, the secrecy that surrounded these contacts also
reflected the prime minister's mistrust of the largely conservative dip-
lomatic corps, as well as tensions and rivalries within his own party.
Yannis P. Kapsis, who has been in charge of Greek-Turkish relations in
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and had been promoted to the rank of
alternate minister the week before, was caught by surprise by the Davos
meeting and was not invited to attend. 20 The Greek public and the
parliamentary opposition were also caught unprepared by the announce-
ment of the Davos meeting. No serious attempt had been made to prepare
or to inform a mobilised public about this dramatic attempt at a
174 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
Greek-Turkish rapprochement. Thus, from early on, questions about the
consistency and the credibility ofPapandreou's foreign policy were raised.
Leaks regarding the lack of preparation on the part of the Greek delegation
in the Davos talks 21 and the attempted damage-control at the follow-up
meetings in Brussels and Athens, did not strengthen Papandreou's
explanations of his dramatic initiative.
For domestic and international reasons Papandreou, like his
predecessors, had to come to terms with the reality of the need for a
dialogue with Turkey, even in limited areas. Karamanlis had discovered in
the late 1970s, and Papandreou now realised, Turkey's objectives and
tactics set very narrow parameters for any negotiations. This is why many
considered the celebrated 'Davos process' as stillborn, a fact that was
confirmed during the course of subsequent Greek-Turkish meetings in the
spring of 1988. Moreover, Papandreou discovered that the consensus
regarding the Turkish threat did not safeguard him from partisan attack.
Thus, Konstantinos Mitsotakis's critique of the Davos process22 was
reminiscent of Papandreou's criticism of Nea Dimokratia's Turkish
policy. Papandreou's conservative critics were effective not only because
the public was unprepared for the Davos initiative, but also because
PASOK's and Papandreou's credibility had begun their downward slide.
Looking back at PASOK's handling of Greek-Turkish relations,
Papandreou inherited but also left to his successors:
(a) a complex of disputes that go through cycles of negoti-
ation-confrontation-negotiation. Up until the time PASOK left office in
1989, war had been avoided and all of the Greek-Turkish disputes
remained in a state of pacific perpetuation. Greek-Turkish relations were
accentuated by tensions and limits testing, as in the summer of 1976, and
in March 1987; high levels of military spending;23 attempts by Turkey to
define the agenda for the negotiations and the means of resolution of
Greek-Turkish differences; 24 limited discussions along narrowly-defined
legal-political lines, without any breakthrough on any issue; and
continuous unilateral and provocative actions by Turkey against Greece
and Cyprus. 25
(b) An essentially defensive Greek foreign policy, characteristic of a
status quo power. This policy was intended as a protection against the
perceived revisionism of a stronger neighbour, which also enjoyed the
toleration, if not the support, of the superpowers.
(c) Even though Papandreou made Cyprus a Greek foreign-policy
priority in conformity with the party's declaratory policy, Cyprus
remained a secondary issue as was demonstrated by the Greek-Turkish
Van Coufoudalds 175
discussions during the Davos process. Papandreou, like his predecessors,
discovered the difficulty of managing the relations of Greece with Cyprus,
given differences in the objectives and tactics of the two states, and the
continuing dislike Greek officials had for some of their Cypriot counter-
parts, including president Kyprianou. 26 As in the past, politics in Cyprus
had its own momentum. This was shown by the rise and election of
Georgios Vassiliou to the Cypriot presidency, and the Turkish-Cypriot
UDI. Thus, the Cyprus problem continued to affect the politics and
policies of Greece, proving once more the interdependence of influence
between the two countries. The Davos process and the Vassiliou election
in Cyprus in February 1988 created optimism about the resolution of the
Cyprus problem. Papandreou even spoke of 'light at the end of the tunnel'.
However, by the time he left office, the Cyprus problem had entered into a
dangerous deadlock in view of new demands placed on the negotiating
table by the Turkish Cypriots, with Turkey's support. 27
(d) As Papandreou left office, international conditions raised new
concerns about Greek-Turkish relations and Cyprus. The expectation that
Greece could influence Turkey's behaviour in respect of Greek-Turkish
relations and Cyprus through the European Community evaporated
quickly, as consideration of Turkey's application for membership in the
Community was postponed at least until after 1993. Moreover, the
emerging detente among the superpowers forced Turkey to re-orient its
strategic role in the region, 28 increasing the possibility of regional
(e) Papandreou left to his successors the challenge of deciphering the
signifiCance of tensions within the Turkish political establishment between
the newly-elected president of Turkey and various hardline factions in the
ministries of defence and foreign affairs, and the implications of these
tensions for Greek-Turkish relations. This was particularly true for the
tensions that developed as a consequence of Turkey's interference in
Western Thrace, particularly during the campaign for the Greek parlia-
mentary elections in June 1989.


As stated earlier, Papandreou's operational policy towards Turkey was

characterised by pragmatism and continuity with that of his predecessors,
despite changes in style and strong declaratory rhetoric. Papandreou's
operational policy was a nationalist policy articulated in clearer and
stronger terms than those of the Greek conservatives. This policy appealed
176 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
to the nationalism of the public. However, the government's articulation
and implementation of its policy towards Turkey left the mobilised Greek
public unprepared for the Davos initiative.
Could Papandreou's policy towards Turkey be described as a 'socialist'
foreign policy? Evidence ofPASOK's socialist ideology could be found in
the party's declaratory foreign-policy positions that were based on the
theory of dependence. However, as shown earlier, the party's declaratory
policy appears to have served various objectives, including that of public
mobilisation, rather than the formulation of the government's operational
foreign policy towards Turkey. PASOK therefore utilised successfully its
socialist declaratory policy in order to establish its nationalist credentials,
and to pursue a nationalistic, albeit pragmatic operational policy that
appealed to public opinion. But the appearance of divergence between the
party's declaratory and operational policies raised serious questions
of policy credibility and consistency, especially as the party and its
charismatic leader by 1988 faced serious domestic problems.
Papandreou, like his predecessors, discovered that the benign neglect
of issues such as that of the Muslim minority in Western Thrace could
become a major long-term political liability at home and abroad. The
minority issue, one of the oldest issues in Greek-Turkish relations, had
never seriously been addressed by any postwar Greek government. 29 This
is not a justification of Papandreou's lack of policy on this issue. It
only shows that, despite the promise of allagi (change), the PASOK
government continued the mismanagement and the mistakes of its
predecessors even in an area involving vital national interests. The
increased international concern with human rights, both in the context of
Western European institutions, as well as of the Helsinki process, will
likely force the minority issue to the top of the Greek foreign policy
agenda. Thus, Papandreou' s successors will not be able to hide behind the
Lausanne Treaty, or to resist international scrutiny as Turkey aggressively
seeks to promote its objectives in the region.
This chapter has indicated that PASOK's declaratory policy placed
Greek-Turkish issues in the context of dependency theory. PASOK was
successful in exploiting public disillusionment with the US after years of
political interference, the seven years of the military dictatorship, and the
Turkish invasion of Cyprus. It therefore was able to pin the responsibility
for Turkey's revisionist conduct on the support, and/or the toleration, of
the superpowers and of the West in particular. Despite such strong
declaratory foreign policy positions, PASOK had difficulty explaining to a
nationalist public the divergence between its declaratory and its
operational policy. It will be even more difficult for any successor non-
Van Coufoudakis 177
socialist government to undertake new initiatives towards Turkey, given
that country's behaviour and the lack of change in Western policy towards
Turkey, without raising the old spectre of appearing to compromise
Greece's interests under Western pressure.
Papandreou, like his conservative predecessors, realised that the
existence of consensus on Greek-Turkish issues was not a safeguard
against partisan attack. Because Greek-Turkish issues affect vital Greek
interests, they should be placed beyond the realm of partisanship. As in
any democracy, policy options should be freely and fully debated, without
resorting to harsh partisan allegations for short-term partisan gains. The
complex Greek-Turkish differences will preoccupy Greek foreign policy
for years to come. Governments of different political persuasions will
need to maintain the consensus that has emerged on the most vital issues
of foreign policy, and to base their operational policy on this consensus.
Consequently, despite the mobilisational value of declaratory policy, there
is no substitute for a firm, clear and consistent operational policy.
Papandreou' s decision to engage in negotiations with Turkey, without
compromising Greece's legally-established rights, and to make the 'no
war' option30 the cornerstone of his policy towards Turkey, required both
political courage and political maturity. PASOK's domestic political
troubles, the strong appearance of divergence from declaratory policy, the
poor preparation of the Greek side in the talks with Turkey, the hardline
objectives of Turkey, and the temptation of partisan gain on the part of the
opposition, all united to undermine this serious attempt by Papandreou to
deal with issues vital to Greece's interests.
After eight years in office, did PASOK leave behind a credible policy
towards Turkey? It is not possible to respond to this question without
qualifications, particularly because so little is known about the 'Davos
process', and the speculation surrounding the motives of each side. The
recent revelations by alternate minister of foreign affairs Yannis P. Kapsis
about the Davos meeting are disturbing, given that Greek-Turkish
relations affect the vital interests of Greece. The further revelations that
the 1959 Zurich agreement on Cyprus was based on drafts prepared by
Turkish diplomats are no excuse for Kapsis's admission that the Davos
communique was also drafted by the other side? 1 The promise of allagi
certainly did not correct the continuing mismanagement and lack of
clearly-defined objectives even in this most vital area of foreign policy.
Thus, the Davos experience may be remembered as one more example of
what career diplomats worldwide fear most about poorly-prepared
summits. In this context, then, PASOK's Turkish policy not only lacked
credibility, but may have also proved to Turkey and its allies that brink-
178 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
manship pays. On the other hand, despite these criticisms, PASOK's
operational policy could be described as credible because, throughout its
eight years it displayed continuity, pragmatism and realism, confirming
once more the consensus that had emerged in Greece on the question of
Turkey after 1974. This should not go unnoticed in Ankara, Brussels or
Washington, despite rhetorical differences among the Greek political
Despite the gravity of Greek-Turkish differences and of the Cyprus
problem, and the public debate associated with these issues, neither
PASOK, nor its critics, appear to have come up with any new or credible
policy alternatives to address these concerns. This was confirmed not only
by the first face-to-face public discussion of foreign policy issues by the
major Greek political party leaders at the Panteios University just before
the 8 April 1990 elections, but also by the fact that the newly-elected
Greek government appeared ready to embark on a new round of talks with
Turkey, armed only with the promise that they will be better-prepared than
their socialist predecessors, even though there was no evidence indicating
a change in Turkey's negotiating behaviour, or in the policies of Western
opinion-makers towards the Greek-Turkish disputes and Cyprus. A year
after PASOK's electoral defeat, none of the major Greek political parties
had defined Greece's role in Southeastern Europe and in the Eastern
Mediterranean, or addressed the problems affecting the vital interests of
Greece in the context of emerging European unification, the dramatic
changes in Central and Eastern Europe, and superpower detente.


1. The Panhellenic Liberation Movement, formed by Andreas Papandreou during

his 1967-1974 exile from Greece.
2. Van Coufoudakis, 'Greek foreign policy since 1974: quest for independence,'
Jou1711Jl of Modem Greek Studies, vi (1988), p. 63
3. 'Toward a liberated and socialist Mediterranean', a position paper delivered by
Andreas Papandreou at the Malta Conference of the Socialist parties of the
Mediterranean, June 1977, reprinted in PASOK, International Relations
Committee, Foreign Policy, Series D, Publication no. 2, September 1977, pp.
4. For a good summary of the main issues and of key positions of the parties, see
Andrew Wilson, The Aegean Dispute, Adelphi Paper no. 155, London:IISS,
Winter 1979-80.
5. Proof included provocative statements by Turkish officials about Greece's
Aegean islands and Western Thrace, and Turkey's invasion and occupation of 37
Van Coufoudakis 179
per cent of Cyprus. Turkey also established the Fourth Army, known as the
'Aegean Army', which included major offensive units that were not under
NATO command. This army, along with Turkey's massive landing fleet, the
second largest in the alliance, was deployed in bases opposite Greece's Aegean
6. Certain provisions for operational and control areas in the Aegean revised ar-
rangements existing in the region until 1974 in favour of Turkey.
7. The militarisation of the island of Limnos and the air-control region of the island
were challenged by Turkey. After 1974, NATO took into account Turkey's
objections in planning manoeuvres in the Aegean, despite a ruling by NATO's
legal adviser that upheld Greece's views on the militarisation of Limnos. The
legal adviser's ruling is contained in a memorandum to NATO's SACEUR dated
14 January 1980. This document remains classified.
8. See his speech in parliament on 10 February 1975. It has been reprinted in
PASOK, International Relations Committee, Foreign Policy, Series D,
Publication no. 1, p. 2.
9. Both words translate to 'stand by'. PASOK, however, argued that symparataxi
implied a stronger commitment than symparastDSi.
10. Mehmet Ali Birand, 'A Turkish view of Greek-Turkish relations', Journal of
Political and Military Sociology, xvi, no. 2, Falll988, p. 175.
11. Papandreou, like his predecessors, continued to advocate that Greece had the
right, under international law, to extend its territorial waters from six to twelve
miles. While in opposition he had urged the conservatives to extend Greek
territorial waters in this way. Turkey has declared that such an action would be
considered as a causus belli.
12. For example, on the part of NATO and the US on the issues of guarantees, allied
exercises in the Aegean, the implementation of the Rogers agreement, etc.
13. As Nixon was able to justify to the American public his dramatic policy-shift on
the issue of relations with the People's Republic of China.
14. This was occasioned by the question of exploration and drilling for oil east of the
island of Thasos. Alternate foreign minister Yannis P. Kapsis provides a
remarkably candid account of the crisis, and of the definition and conduct of
Greek foreign policy during the 1981-88 period, in his recent book Oi 3 Meres
tou Marti, (Athens, 1990).
15. A Turkish oceanographic research vessel whose activities in the Aegean during
the summer of 1976 created a similar crisis that brought Greece and Turkey near
to armed conflict.
16. A facility dedicated on communications as well as electronic monitoring and
interference. The facility had the capacity of disrupting and/or intercepting Greek
military communications.
17. Yannis P. Kapsis, op. cit., p. 112.
18. Ibid., pp. 307-16.
19. In the 1974-80 period, high-level foreign-policy decisions were made by prime
minister Karamanlis and his diplomatic adviser P. Molyviatis, often with little if
any input from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
20. Yannis P. Kapsis, op. cit., p. 128. This may have been the case because Kapsis
was considered to be a hardliner on Greek-Turkish issues both in Greece and in
21. In a devastating critique of the communique issued by the two prime ministers
following the Davos meeting, Kapsis reveals that it had been drafted by the
Turkish side. He describes the communique as 'shameful', op. cit., pp. 133-6.
180 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
22. Mitsotakis questioned the manner by which decisions were made prior to, and at,
Davos; raised the possibility of unknown compromises that Papandreou may
have made at the meeting; accused him of 'surrender and lack of preparation,' of
abandoning Cyprus, etc. Mitsotakis, however, supported the principle of
Greek-Turkish dialogue.
23. Greek defence spending as a percentage of GOP in 1987 was 6.2 per cent, the
second highest in NATO after the US. Turkey ranked fourth among NATO
members at 4.4 per cent. United States, Department of Defense, Report on Allied
Contributions to the Comnwn Defence (Washington, DC: USGPO, 1989), p. 96.
24. As in the case of excluding the Cyprus issue from the Davos process, the issue of
the Muslim minority in Western Thrace, and the drafting of the compromise for a
possible joint appeal to the International Court of Justice over the delimitation of
the Aegean continental shelf.
25. Such as the violations of Greek airspace, even after the 1982 moratorium, and
during the Davos process; the proclamation in 1989 of search-and-rescue areas in
the Aegean along lines that coincided with those proclaimed earlier by Turkey for
air control over the Aegean and for the division of the Aegean continental shelf;
the endorsement of the Turkish-Cypriot unilateral declaration of independence,
and the recognition of Denktash' s pseudo-state.
26. Responsibility for Cypriot affairs was taken away from alternate minister of
foreign affairs Yannis P. Kapsis in an attempt to reduce friction between the two
sides. Kapsis describes in his book areas of disagreement with the Cypriots and the
tensions in his relations with President Kyprianou, op. cit., pp. 259-73.
27. Following a new cycle of high-level talks in Cyprus between President Vassiliou
and the Turkish-Cypriot leader Raouf Denktash that started in August 1988, the
two sides exchanged formal constitutional proposals at the end of January 1989.
The gap in the conceptions of the two sides as to the nature of the federal solution
could not be narrowed, despite meetings in New York with the UN Secretary-
General in April and June 1989. The talks formally collapsed in March 1990,
following demands by the Turkish-Cypriots for a constitutional recognition of
their right to self-determination.
28. President Turgut Ozal's speech at the International Club, Washington, DC, 17
January 1990, Newspot, 25 January 1990, p. 2. Ozal addressed the theme of
Turkey as an island of stability and its stabilising influence in the region.
29. Economic development plans did not adequately address the needs of the region
and of all its inhabitants. Moreover, in periods of euphoria in Greek-Turkish
relations, as in the early 1950s, the government of Field-Marshal Papagos
undertook certain simplistic steps towards the Muslim minority and its institutions
that were exploited later by Turkey. See K. G. Andreadis. I Mousoulmaniki
Meionotis tis Dytikis Thrakis (Thessaloniki, 1956), pp. 9-10.
30. The 'no war' option proclaimed at the Davos meeting can be seen as another
manifestation of Kararnanlis's 1976 proposal for a non-aggression pact between
the two countries.
31. Op. cit., pp. 133-5.
11 Defence and Security
Policies under PASOK
Thanos Veremis

Unlike other fields of government policy, under PASOK, defence policy

did not constitute a sharp departure from past practices. Andreas
Papandreou was on the whole cautious when it came to defence issues,
perhaps because he realised that security considerations do not lend
themselves to experiments and pyrotechnical statements that serve
political goals. Furthermore, while his initial Third World orientation and
occasional anti-Western outbursts reflected ideological inclinations within
the party and occasions to mobilise publicsentiment behind him, the 1974
Turkish invasion of Cyprus had had a sobering impact on Greek security
perceptions and a rallying effect on party positions. After the fall of the
Greek military, what was perceived as a threat from within NATO became
the cause of a reconsideration of Greece's relations with the US and the
alliance. This, combined with a sense of moral outrage over Cyprus, was
shared by conservatives, liberals and left-wingers and formed the con-
sensus on which Greece's defence policy was based.
While in opposition (1974-81), Papandreou promised that when he
came to power he would withdraw Greece from NATO and remove US
bases from Greek soil. However, his defence policy after his October 1981
electoral victory did not deviate substantially from that of his
predecessors. Still, although the country maintained its membership in
both the military and the political structures of NATO, its relations with
the alliance were strained. Shortly after taking office, Papandreou asked
NATO to guarantee the country's borders 'from every threat, from what-
ever side it emanates', implying that a guarantee against threats from the
East was potentially desired. His administration partly froze the Rogers
agreement (December 1981) but did not withdraw from the military
structure of the alliance. Greece repeatedly cancelled her participation in
Aegean NATO exercises, refusing to accept the exclusion of the Limnos
airfield from NATO scenarios which had been a constant Turkish demand.
In his effort to overcome the Limnos deadlock, Papandreou attempted
another approach at the end of 1984. Greece officially notified the pres-
ence of her forces on the island in the Defense Planning Questionnaire

182 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
(DPQ) and asked that they be placed under NATO command but failed to
override Turkey's veto. 1
The Papandreou government completed the negotiations initiated by
Karamanlis in 1975 on the future of the US installations in Greece. In
September 1983 a Defence and Economic Cooperation Agreement
(DECA) was signed which updated and replaced the 1953 US-Greece
Defence Agreement and other bilateral security arrangements. 2 The new
agreement limited some of the privileges which US forces had enjoyed in
Greece over the past thirty years. Greek and American officials disagreed
over the interpretation of its final article which stated that the agreement
would expire on 30 December 1988. Papandreou for some time argued
that the DECA provided for the removalof the US bases, while American
officials maintained that it was not clear from the treaty text whether after
five years it would be 'terminated' or was merely 'terminable'. US
Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger visited Athens in April 1984,
hoping to gain some clarification from the prime minister on the expiration
date of the base agreement, but left without assurances. In the spring of
1986 American Secretary of State George Shultz came to Athens in an
attempt to build a climate of improved relations between the two states.
Schultz did not put pressure on the government for an immediate answer
on the future -of the bases and Papandreou' s statements implied that the
issue was still pending. On 10 November 1986 a new DICA (Defence and
Industrial Cooperation Agreement) was signed between Greece and the
US that was to last for five years but would be subject to renewal. The
DICA was indirectly linked to the DECA and its conclusion was widely
interpreted as an indication that a new DECA would also be signed.
Negotiations of this kind between the United States and Greece were
necessarily complex because of the important political and symbolic role
played by US aid. Military assistance has been a central element of
Greek-American relations, particularly since the maintenance of a 7:10
ratio in military aid between Greece and Turkey is considered by Athens
as proof of US resolve to maintain a regional balance of power between
the two countries. Article 8 of the 1983 DECA provides that aid and
regional balance be clearly linked with the overall goals of the agreement. 3
Washington remains flexible on the question, pointing out that the above
ratio has never been formally enshrined in legislation but is merely a
Congressional tradition dating from 1980. For the Greeks, this arrange-
ment safeguards the balance of forces between two allies and therefore
serves as a stabilising factor in NATO's southern flank. 4 Aid, however,
was viewed differently by the two countries. Whereas Turkey strove for
the largest possible amount of FMS credits, Greece aspired to keep the
Thanos Veremis 183
7:10 ratio at low levels of credit. Unlike Greece, Turkey also received
non-repayable grants in the form of Military Assistance Programmes
(MAP), a practice that undermined the 7:10 ratio. s
The notion that the primary threat to Greek security did not come from
NATO's main adversary, the Soviet Union, led to a gradual
reconsideration of Greek defence policy, especially in the first years after
the 1974 crisis. This change has been formalised by the New Defence
Doctrine promulgated by the government in January 1985. Greece sought
to institutionalise changes that had already taken place in her defensive
stance. These changes reflected a national-regional perspective on defence
rather than considerations directly related to the framework. Greek forces
were therefore organised and deployed in the following manner:
(a) Air force: besides the major airfields on the mainland (Thessaloniki,
Larissa, AnchialosNolos, Tanagra, Araxos, Andravida) and on Crete
(Soda, Heraklion), new ones were constructed and became operational in
the 1970s and 1980s located on a north-south line crossing the central
Aegean (Khryssoupolis/Kavala, Skyros, Thera and Karpathos).
(b) Navy: the arrangement of forces remained unchanged. The moderni-
sation of the fleet through acquisition of modem submarines as well as small
ships and patrol boats improved the operational capabilities and flexibility of
the Greek fleet vis-a-vis the larger units of the Soviet Black Sea fleet.
(d) Army: since 1974, the army has been concentrated mainly in
Thrace-Macedonia and the Aegean islands.
The flexibility of air and naval forces minimises the necessity of a
special peacetime deployment. Greece's limited land border with Turkey
to the east and much more extensive one with its neighbours to the north
continue to be the main determinants of the deployment and defensive
doctrines of the army.
In the annual Greek reports to NATO on its allocation of forces in
response to the DPQ, there was no evidence of a significant movement of
troops away from Greece's northern borders. This assertion was confirmed
by Admiral Lee Baggett, Jr (CINCSOUTH and then SACLANT) in an
interview with the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet (17 June 1985). Greece's
1000-km boundaries with Albania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria are covered
by the First Army Corps (Albania), the Second and half of the Third
(Yugoslavia) and the other half of the Third, with the entire Fourth
(Bulgaria). The Third and Fourth Corps have the highest level of manning
in peacetime and flexible mobilisation plans in case of emergency. The
most likely routes of attack against Greece would naturally follow the
Vardar-Axios river through Yugoslavia and the Nestos and Evros rivers
184 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
from Bulgaria and therefore Greek armed forces are concentrated in these
The lack of strategic depth in northern Greece was considered a central
problem for NATO strategy against a Warsaw Pact threat. The distance
between the Bulgarian borders and the Aegean coastline is very short - in
Thrace it ranges from 26 to 65 km. The fortification of the western and
eastern Aegean islands provides some strategic depth to a geographically
weak northern defence - a doctrine adapted by PASOK's defence
minister, Antonis Drosoyannis in the mid-1980s.
(a) The Limnos airfield can provide full air-support to land operations
in Thrace, and that island, along with Samothrace and Lesvos, forms the
first of a succession of choke-points to hinder the passage of the Soviet
fleet in the area. If the Escadra, circulating in the Aegean or Eastern
Mediterranean, attempted to aid Warsaw Pact forces in Thracian land
operations, these islands could form the last choke-point which would
deny the Soviets access to their destination.
(b) The islands of Chios, Samos and Ikaria, together with the Cyclades
and Euboea, form a compact complex in the middle of the Aegean and the
most dense of the successive choke-points.
(c) Further to the south, the Dodecanese islands are situated along the
passage to the southeast, while Karpathos and Crete control the southern
route to North Mrica.
An argument then shared by PASOK and Nea Dimokratia was that the
militarisation of the islands would make it easier to resist a Soviet attempt
to occupy and transform them into naval bases. Karpathos, in particular,
was seen as a likely objective of Soviet strategy and the militarisation of
other islands could help deter Soviet attempts to control them. 6 While the
Greek navy continued to operate largely as it did before 1974, the air
force's role, given the fortification of the Aegean islands was considerably
widened. The new airfields on the various islands (including Limnos) are in
a circular arrangement offering Greek pilots full control over the Aegean
Sea. The Skyros airfield is in an especially dominant position, controlling
the Central and Northern Aegean. Furthermore, in the case of an East-West
confrontation, the success of Soviet naval operations in the Mediterranean
would largely depend on the support received by Backfire bombers taking
off from Crimean airfields. A partial defence against their effectiveness
might be the network of Greek radars located on various strategically-
located Aegean islands. 7 The three thousand islands of the Aegean
archipelago channel maritime traffic into lanes passing through at least
three main island complexes. Greek forces operating from these islands can
Thanos Veremis 185
impede the passage of any ship through the Aegean archipelago. Thus, the
successive choke-points form a narrow corridor that extends from the
Bosporus and ends at the Rhodes-Karpathos-Cre~Kithira-Peloponnese
line, which can block not only the exit of Soviet vessels from the Black Sea
but also their effort to retuin from the Mediterranean back to their bases or
to blockade Turkish ports and disrupt the lines of communication between
Turkey and the West. 8 General Rogers was well aware of the strategic
value of such a corridor when he stated to the Turkish journalist Ali Birand,
that 'it is important not only to keep the Aegean vis-a-vis the Soviet forces
which pass through the Straits, but also to impede the Soviet forces of the
Mediterranean from entering the Aegean in order to regain the Black Sea
by going through the Straits. I am interested in all measures taken to deter
these two possibilities.' 9
The most significant change in PASOK's policy towards Turkey was
heralded by the Davos meeting between the Greek and Turkish prime
ministers in February 1988. Almost a year before, a crisis caused by
Turkey's decision to send a research vessel escorted by warships to
explore for oil in the disputed continental shelf around Lesvos, Limnos
and Samothrace, brought the two states close to an armed clash. The crisis
was defused but it became clear that perhaps a future confrontation could
not be averted given the delicate state of relations in the Aegean. At the
same time Papandreou began to realise that repeated emergency appeals to
the Greek population would eventually blunt sensitivities over Greek-
Turkish disputes. Furthermore, the burden of enormous defence spending
on the ailing Greek balance of payments and the long period of obligatory
military service which detracted from the government's populist image,
convinced Andreas Papandreou that he should take the initiative in raising
the threshold of war between Greece and Turkey .10 In a speech to officers
in Jannina, he explained that the rapprochement would eliminate the
triangular relationship between Greece, the United States and Turkey and
would free his country's defence and foreign policy from dependence on
US aid and mediation.
In an interview on 20 May 1988 11 Papandreou claimed that his major
objective was to improve Greece's image abroad as a moderate
interlocutor and a champion of peace: 'I believe that we have attained a
credibility in Europe which is much greater than we had before.' 12 In a
speech in parliament he promoted the view that it was the danger of war
that determined his about-face vis-a-vis Turkey. Although the argument
was weak because his tough position in the past had not excluded the
possibility of armed confrontation, his peace initiative elicited general
relief in Greece.
186 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
The meeting in Davos was preceded by an exchange of letters between
Papandreou and Ozal in the winter of 1987 which paved the way for what
was considered to be the most daring peace-effort in two decades of
troubled relations. Although Papandreou set off for the meeting with the
express intention of merely discussing ways of referring legal questions
concerning the continental shelf to the International Court, he eventually
agreed to the formation of two committees to deal with bilateral issues
arising between the two sides. 13 One would promote ways of economic
and business cooperation and the other would enumerate and describe all
issues that existed between the two neighbours. Whereas the first com-
mittee predictably made quick progress, the second foundered on the
sensitive issues which it was set up to define.
In the spring of 1988, the Turkish minister of foreign affairs, Mesut
Yilmaz, raised the question of the Turkish minority in Greek Thrace and
dismissed any possibility of a Turkish military withdrawal from Cyprus
before the two communities on the island had come to an agreement and
solution. 14 The Greek side soon realised that Cyprus was not considered by
the Turks as part of the Davos package while the Muslims of Thrace were
being forcefully brought into the picture. Although some progress was
made in accident-prevention in international waters in the Aegean, the
Davos spirit quietly expired during 1989. The Greeks belatedly came to
the realisation that a description of bilateral issues between the two would
add new items to the long list of Turkish claims. By the end of 1988
allegations of scandal concerning members of the Greek government
erupted with force, and diminished official interest in Greek-Turkish
On 7 January 1989 the Turkish Government Gazette published a
decision of the cabinet whereby roughly half the Aegean Sea became
Turkey's responsibility for conducting 'search and rescue' operations.
Although the implications of this move for Greek security have not been
clarified, this development was associated with the Turkey's extension in
July 1974 of her continental shelf to the median line in the Aegean and
with her unilateral revision in August of the same year of ICAO decisions
and of FIR limits in the Eastern Aegean. At about the same time, Turkey
asked for the exclusion of a sizeable part of her southeastern territory
(bordering on Iraq and Syria) from the Vienna CFE provisions. The
prospect of a military build-up in such territory, which in case of war
could be moved to the western coast of Turkey, made the Greek
government very uncomfortable. 15 However, the paralysis in public affairs
that the scandals had caused, excluded any serious Greek consideration of
such post-Davos developments and indeed of the entirely new regional
Thanos Veremis 187
prospects caused by the rapid emergence of detente in East-West
relations. PASOK's final months in office were lost to security
considerations. Discussions with the Americans on the future of a new
DECA made some progress but were conveniently passed on to the next
government. Thus PASOK avoided disappointing its followers who had
taken its promise of removing the American bases seriously. In the light of
Papandreou's own acceptance of Greece's position in NATO, the US
decision to remove some of its facilities in Greece and the blossoming of
East-West detente, the entire issue of the bases became an anachronism.
Greek defence policy from Karamanlis to Papandreou displays a
continuity and coherence far more evident than that between their
respective foreign policies. Although Karamanlis initiated an important
opening towards the communist Balkan states and the Soviet Union, his
preference was unmistakably for the West. His dogged efforts to bring
Greece into the European Community were based on the premise that
entry would be useful for Greek economic modernisation but would also
serve national security ends. Papandreou took an entirely new tack in
foreign policy by adopting the arguments of the non-aligned, professing
solidarity with Third World demands and castigating the superpowers for
threatening the world with extinction. His statements against US policy
often provoked the wrath of the American administration and quickly
established his reputation as the maverick of the Western world. Although
Papandreou' s declaratory policy was radical, in fact he shirked decisions
that would have compromised the country's security. On major security
issues, the socialist prime minister appears to have agreed with his
conservative predecessors on the following lines of argument: by
remaining in NATO, Greece could better mobilise Western support on the
key Aegean issues. Given the unanimity principle, she could prevent the
adoption of collective NATO decisions that would prejudice command
and control arrangements in the Aegean and undermine the Greek position
there. Relations with Turkey would be kept below the level of armed
In the tug-of-war between East and West in the seventies and eighties
PASOK reflected an overall European caution in attitudes to the USSR
and its allies. In 1982, after the Polish government declared martial law
and banned the Solidarity trade union, the USA imposed economic
sanctions on both the Soviet Union and Poland. Cooperation in the
implementation of these sanctions was denied to the USA by West
European states who were hoping to do business with the East and there-
fore maintained correct relations with the USSR. Although Greece was
the only NATO ally which refused to condemn the imposition of martial
188 Greece, 1981-89: The Populist Decade
law in Poland, she reflected a common European fear of isolating the
Soviets. In a disadvantageous position militarily and within reach of
superior Soviet power, West Europeans opposed policies that would
provoke their communist neighbours, while the USA, secure behind its
nuclear deterrent, considered the conflict between East and West as a
battle of wits between two different worlds that cannot co-exist. Post-
Gorbachev developments, strangely enough, proved that the hawkish
tactics of President Reagan had been more effective in bringing the
adversary to the table of negotiations rather than the doveish approach of
most Europeans, including Greece. 16 This particular vindication of security
policies that PASOK had always opposed created confusion within the
party and its followers. In the electoral campaign of June 1989,
Papandreou attributed the unfolding detente between East and West to his
own efforts and to the peace initiative of the Six (the heads of government
of India, Argentina, Mexico, Sweden, Greece and Tanzania). In fact the
initiative was little more than a public relations exercise and had no impact
on world politics. Papandreou's claims to have contributed to the success
of the INF agreement between Reagan and Gorbachev therefore sounded
There was a strong element of anachronism in PASOK's overall
concept of world politics. Since much of the movement's appeal was
based on redressing the grievances of the vanquished in the Greek civil
war, Papandreou sought to reconstitute- at least verbally- the fear of the
Cold War climate. His constant references to the conservatives as an
authoritarian right-wing stratum that could easily revert to the oppressive
tactics of the fifties, his unyielding opposition to American influence and
his initial Third World orientation, prevented his followers from coming to
terms with a changing world. His belated decision to fall into line with the
other members of NATO and the EC did not come in time to eliminate his
reputation as the maverick of the Western world.


1. Ton Frinking, Draft Interim Report of the Sub-Committee on the Southern

Region (Brussels: North Atlantic Assembly, November 1984), p.24.
2. Antonis Bredimas, 'The US bases in Greece: the legal aspects' in US Bases in
the Medite"anean: The cases of Greece and Spain, The Hellenic Foundation for
Defense and Foreign Policy (Athens 1989), pp. 27-39.
3. See the Greek press of September and October 1983.
4. Ellen Laipson, The Seven-Ten Ratio in Military Aid to Greece and Turkey: A
congressional tradition, CRS Report (Washington DC, 15 June 1983, revised 10
April1985), pp. 1-11.
Thanos Veremis 189
S. The Seven to Ten Ratio in US Aid to Greece and Turkey, conference proceedings
of the Hellenic Foundation for Defense and Foreign Policy (Athens, 1988), pp.
6. Thanos Veremis, 'Greece and NATO', Yearbook 1988, The Hellenic Foundation
for Defense and Foreign Policy (Athens, 1989), pp. 71-81.
7. Ibid.
8. N. Lazarides, 'Indirect strategy in the eastern Mediterranean and the role of
Greece', The Hellenic Foundation for Defense and Foreign Policy, pp. 15-18.
9. To Vima, 19 July 1984.
10. Thanos Veremis, 'I Ellada, i Tourlda, ta Valkania' in E. Katsoulis, T. Giannitsis
and P. Kazakos (eds), 1 El/ada pros to 2000, (Athens, 1988), pp. S 17-24.
11. Pontiki, 20 May 1988.
12. Ibid.
13. Thanos Veremis (ed.), Oi Ellinotourkikes skheseis 1923-1987 (Athens, 1988),
pp. 17-30.
14. To Vima, 24 Aprill988. These positions were reiterated by the Turkish foreign
minister in September 1988, Kathimerini, 7 September 1988.
IS. Thanos Veremis, 'Ellinotourkikes skheseis' in D. Konstas and Kh. Tsardanidis
(eds), Synkhroni Elliniki Exoteriki Politiki, (Athens 1988), ii, p. 19.
16. 'Greece' in Douglas Stuart (ed.), Politics and Security in the Southern Region of
the Atlantic Alliance, (London, 1988), pp. 149-50.

Acheson plan 124 Berlusconi 104

ADEDY 51, 55, 57, 61-2 Birand, Ali 185
Aegean (also: Aegean dispute) ix, Black Sea 183, 185
116,118-19, 124,155,160, Bonn 66
163-4, 169, 172, 181, 183-7 Bosporus 185
Mrica 135 Brussels viii, 138-9, 146-7, 174, 178
Albania 183 Bulgaria 173, 183-4
Allagi (also: 'Change') 26, 29, 67,
104, 118, 176-7 Camp David, Agreements 143
America, Central 120--1 Castro, Fidel 115, 121
Anchialos 183 Catharsis 89
Andravida 183 ccoo 49
Ankara 156, 178 CEOE 49
Apoyevmatini 101 CFE 186
Arabs (also: Arab) 4, 21, 148, 154-5, COIL 49
164 CGTP 49
Arafat, Yassir 121 Channel 29 1OS
Araxos 183 Chatham House 136
Argentina 58, 142-3, 188 Chios 184
Armenians 4 Clwra 172
Arsenis, Gerasimos 133, 140, 145 CIA 106-7, 109
Asia 168 CINCSOUTH 183
Athanasiadis G. 101 CIP 49
Athina 9.84 99 CISL 49
Atlantic Alliance 155, 162 Civil War (Greek) 188
Austria 59 Coalition of the Left and Progress
A veroff, Evangelos 67, 84 (also: Synaspismos) 37, 40,
Avgi 101 89-92
Avriani (also: Avrianismos) 92, 102, Cold War 155, 158-61, 164-5, 167,
105-7,111,128 188
Colombo 141
Baggett, Lee 183 Commision, European 137-8
Balkans (also: Balkan states) 3-4, 9, Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
108,111,121-2,142,154,169, 136,140
187 Confederation of the Socialist Parties of
Banias, Yiannis 87 the European Community 148
Bank of Crete 103 Constantine, ex-King 122-3
Bases (US military) 29, 38, 82, 110, Contadora, Group 121
115,119,124-5,157,162-3, Counter-Reformation viii
168, 173, 181-2, 187 Crete 183, 185
BBC 99 Crimean airfields 184

Index 191
Cruise missiles x, 142 13-19,21,29,38,63,65, 78,80,
Cuba 121 82,84-5,109-10,115-18,120,
Cwnhuriyet 183 126-7, 131-52, 154-5, 1~1.
Cyclades 184 168, 171, 175, 187-8
Cyprus ix, 8-9, 117, 124, 127, 134, European Council, (of Heads of States)
142, 144, 155, 164, 167-70, 172, 136-9, 146
174-7, 181, 186 European Investment Bank 80
Cyprus file 123, 171 European Parliament 135, 141-2
European Political Cooperation
Damanaki, Maria 106 141-4, 146-7, 151
Davos agreement 124, 170, 172-7, European Union 147
185, 186 Treaty on 141
Defence Agreement (U~reece. Evros 183
1953) 182
Defence and Economic Cooperation Falkland Islands (Malvinas) 142, 151
Agreement, (DECA) 82, 162-3, Federation of Greek Industries (SEV)
182, 187 20,49
Defence and Industrial Cooperation Financial Times, The 138
Agreement, (DICA) 182 FIR Limits (in the Aegean) 186
Defence and Planning Questionnaire Fitzgerald, Garrett 150
(DPQ) 181, 183 Florakis, Kharilaos 88-9, 106, 116
Deliyanis, Theodoros xi FMS 182
Denktash, Rauf 172 Fotilas, Asimakis 132
Denmark 146 France (also: French) ix, 2, 49, 58,
Deutsche Welle 99 66, 104, 121
Diaspora (Greek) 6-7
Dimokratiki Ananeosi xii, 90 Gaza, Strip 121
Dodecanese 184 General Confederation of Greek
Dooge, Committee 146 Workers (GSEE) 20, 49, 51, 55,
Dountas, Mikhalis 173 57-8.~2.85
Drosoyiannis, Andonis 184 General Security of Military
Duverger, Maurice 65 Information Agreement 163
Genscher, Hans-Dietrich 141
EAM 108 Germany, Federal Republic of 168
EESE 51 Gorbachev, Mikhail 109, 115, 188
El Salvador 12~1 Great Britain (also: British) 2, 104,
Eleftheros Typos 101 168
Eleftheri Gnomi 102 Great Powers ix
Eleftherotypia 102, 104 Great Schism (of 1054) ix
Elliniki Aristera 87 Greek Lobby (in the US) 157
Enosis Kentrou 66, 78, 122-4 'Greenguards' 81
ERT (also: Public Broadcasting GSEVEE 51, 57,59-61
Corporation) 96, 98, 105 Gulf, Persian 168
Escadra 184
Ethnos 102, 104 Helsinki 176
Euboia 184 Heraklion 183
Eurobarometer Surveys 147 Hersant, Robert 104
European Commision 137-8
European Community viii-xii, 7-8, Iberian (accession to the EC) 150
192 Index
ICAO 186 Koskotas, George (also: Koskotas
Ikaria 184 affair) 26, 28, 86, 89, 101-4,
India 122, 143, 188 107, 127
Industrial Revolution ix Kouris Group 102, 105, 107
INF, Treaty 188 Koutsogiorgas, Agamemnon 86
Integrated Mediterranean Programmes Kryssoupolis 183
(IMP) 82, 138, 146-7, 150 Kurds 4
International Court 186 Kyprianou, Spyros 173
Iraq 186 Kyriazidis, Nikos 137
Irish 150 Kyrkos, Leonidas 85, 89, 106
Israel 59, 121, 142
Italy 21,49,50,58, 104,121 Lambrakis Group 102
Larissa 155, 183
Jannina 185 Lausanne, Treaty of 176
Jaruzelski, General Wojciech x, 16, Lesvos 184-5
120, 162 Lewis, Flora 157
Jerusalem xi Libya (also: Libyan) 160, 162
Jews 98-107 Limnos x, 155-6, 160, 169, 172, 181,
Junta (also: military regime, colonels' 184-5
regime dictatorship, coup d'cStat London Council 144
1967) viii, X, 7, 9, 32, 68, 71, 78, Luxembourg, Council 146
83-4,89,95,99, 117,122,134,
155-6, 159, 161, 164, 168, 176 Macedonia 151, 183
Malta, Agreement 109
Kapsis, Yiannis 159-60, 173, 177 Massachussetts 86
Karamanlis, Konstantinos xi, 37, Maxwell, Robert 104
66-7,81-2,106,123-4,126, Mediterranean 108, 137, 150, 170,
132, 136, 141, 149, 155-6, 160, 178, 184-5
164,168,170-1,174,182,187 Mediterranean Economic Community
Karpathos 183-5 (plan for) 135
Kathimerini 101 Merryman, John 71
Kavala 183 Metaxas, Ioannis viii
KEE 51 Mexico 122, 143, 188
Keeley, Robert 156, 158-9, 165 Middle East 120-1,142,170
Kennan, George 115 Mikromesaioi (small businessmen)
KGB 164 56
Kharalambopoulos, Yiannis 159 Milan, Council 146
Kileler 108 Military Assistance Programmes
Kithira 185 (MAP) 183
KKE (Communist Party of Greece) 8, Mishellenes 4
12,51,54-5,58,59-60,68, 79, Mitsotakis, Konstantinos xii, 84,
83-91,99, 106, 116, 117, 120, 106-7, 116, 174
148-9 Molyviatis, Petros 160
KKE (Communist Party of Greece), of Mompheratos, Nikos 101
the Interior (Esoterikou) 84, 87, Murdoch, Rupert 104
Korean Airlines jumbo-jet (Shooting- National Health System (Greek) xii
down of) x, 16, 120, 143, 151, Nazis 83, 106
157, 161 Nea, Ta 104
Index 193
Nea Dimokratia (New Democracy) Papadopoulos, Georgios x
xli, 12,19-20,27,35-7,39, Papandreou, Andreas viii-xiii,14,
41-2,47,51,55,57-60,63, 26,30-1,53,58,67, 78-9,81-2,
66-7,70,78,84-5,89-90,92, 84,86,88-9,96, 107,113-19,
96,98-9,101-3,106,113-14, 121-8, 132-4, 136, 138-41,
116, 119, 121, 127-8, 131-2, 144-6, 148-9, 154, 156-62,
134-5,137,140,142-3,149, 164-5, 167, 170-7, 181-2, 185-7
152, 155-6, 159, 162, 170, 174, Papandreou, Georgios 78, 122-3
184 Papandreou, Margaret x
Nea Makri 173 Papoulias, Karolos 159
Nestos 183 Paris 106
New Defence Docbine 183 PASEGES 51, 55, 59, 61
Nicaragua 120-1 Patras xi
Nidal, Abu 159 Patronage (also: clientelistic relations,
Non-Aligned, Movement 154 clientele) xii, 4, 6, 27, 31-2,
'17th November' 101 40-2,53-4,81,89,151,156,167
North Atlantic Treaty Association PeacelnitiativeoftheSix 109,122,
(NATO) ix-xi, 9, 16, 29, 38, 143,188
78, 82, 109-10, 114-17, 119-20, Peloponnese 185
122, 124, 135, 142-3, 154-7, Peron (also: Peronism) 48, 52-4, 58,
159-60, 163-4, 168-72, 181-2, 113
184, 187-8 Pershing missiles x, 142
Phileleftheron Komma (Liberal Party)
Oilconomilcos Takhydromos 144 52
Olympic Airways 164 Philbellenes 4
24 Ores 102 Piraeus 85, 89
Orthodoxy viii-ix, 3 Plaskovitis, Spyros 141
Ottomans (also: Ottoman) viii, ix 3, Po~ X, 120,132,161-2,187,188
4,6 Polytechnic uprising 108
OVES 55 Popotas 102
()zat,1\ugut 124,127,171,173,186 Populism (also: Populist) viii, xiii 12,
Pakistan 122 54-8,60-1,63,67, 78,97, 101,
Palestinian Liberation Organisation 105,107,111, 113,128,171, 185
(PlJJ) 121, 155, 164 Portugal viii, 21,49-50, 58, 80, 151
Palestinians 4, 121
Panellinio Ape1eftherotiko Kinima Qaddafi, Muammar 162
(Panhellenic Liberation
Movement, PAK) 134, 167 Radio Albina 100
Panellinio Sosialistiko Kinema Rallis, Georgios 81
(Panhellenic Socialist Movement, Reagan, Ronald 109, 121, 124,
PASOK) viii-ix, xi-xiii, 8-12, 156-9, 162, 164, 188
14-16,18,26-43,47-51,53-61, Rezan, Maria 9
66-8,70-3,78-82,84-7,89-91, Rhodes 185
94-7, 100, 102-9, 111, 113, Ritsos, Yiannis 98
115-24,126-8,133-45,147-51, Rogers Agreement 169, 181, 185
154-65, 167, 169-71, 176, 181, Rome, Treaty of 140
184-5, 187-8 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 71
Pangalos, Theodoros 132, 137 Russia 6
194 Index
Salazar viii UGT 49
Samos 184 Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Samothrace 184-5 (USSR) X, 9, 83, 120-1, 157,
Sandinistas 16 159,161,164,169,183,187-8
Sartzetakis, Khristos 68, 126 United Nations (UN) 121, 142, 170,
Shultz, George 158, 162, 182 173
Simitis, Kostas 41, 52, 86, 135 United States of America (USA)
Sinai 144 ix-xi, 9, 16, 78, 106, 109, 115,
Single European Act 146-7, 150 117-19,121,124, 126,140,143,
Skyros 184 145, 148, 154-63, 165, 168-70,
Socialist International 148 181-2,185,187-8
Solidarity x, 16, 120, 162, 187
Soviet bloc 155 Vandor, Augusto 54
Spain viii, 21,49-50, 58, 121, 139 Vardar (Axios), River 183
Spinelli report 141 Varfis, Grigorios 132, 136-7
Stearns, Monteagle 158-9, 165 Vassiliou, Spyros 175
Straits 185 Venezuela 59
Stuttgart, Council 138 Venizelos, Eleftherios (also:
Suda 183 Venizelism) xi, 10, 108
Sweden 122, 143, 188 Vienna 186
Switzerland 124, 173 Vima, To 102
Syntekbnia (Guild) 61-3 Voice of America 163
Syria 151-80 Volkische Beobachter 107
Volos 183
Tanagra 183 Vradyni 101
Tanzania 122, 143, 188
Thatcher, Margaret 150 Warsaw Pact 184
Theodorakis, Mikis 98 Washington 121, 134, 156, 158-65,
Theotokas, Georgios xi 178, 182
Thessaloniki 85, 99, 137, 183 Watergate 127
Third Greek Republic 7 Weber,Max 3
'Third of September', Declaration Weimar Republic 107
148 Weinberger, Caspar 162, 182
'Theses on 1992' 148-9 West Bank 121
Thira 183 White House 158
Thrace 175-6, 18~. 186 World War, Second 156
Trikoupis, Kharilaos xi
Tsatsos, Konstantinos 66-7 Yilmaz, Mesut 186
Tsovolas, Dimitrios 86 Yugoslavia 183
Turkey (also: Turks) 9, 115, 119,
120-2,124,127,155-7,159, Zolotas, Xenophon 63, 90
161, 163-5, 168-78, 182-3, Zurich Agreement (1959) 177
Tzannetakis, Tzannis 89