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Modern Democracy of Greece

Modern Democracy of Greece

The Colonels’ Junta, also known as the Greek Military Junta or the Regime of the Colonels, was a military dictatorship that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974. This period in Greek history was marked by authoritarian rule, political repression, and the suspension of democratic institutions. Here’s a detailed overview of the Colonels’ Junta:

Background

  • The junta’s rise to power was rooted in political instability and polarization in Greece during the 1960s.
  • Greece had experienced a series of unstable governments, political violence, and a power struggle between conservative and progressive forces.
  • On April 21, 1967, a group of mid-ranking military officers, led by Colonel Georgios Papadopoulos, staged a coup d’├ętat, claiming to restore order and combat perceived communist influence.

Key Figures

  • Colonel Georgios Papadopoulos: The leader of the junta and the de facto ruler of Greece during this period.
  • Brigadier General Stylianos Pattakos: A key figure in the junta and a member of the ruling junta council.
  • Colonel Nikolaos Makarezos: Another influential member of the junta council.

Main Events and Characteristics

Coup and Suspension of Democracy

  • The junta’s coup was successful, and it resulted in the suspension of democratic institutions, the dissolution of political parties, and the suppression of civil liberties.
  • The Greek monarchy, led by King Constantine II, initially supported the junta, but later relations soured.

Authoritarian Rule and Repression

  • The junta imposed strict censorship on the media, arrested and imprisoned political opponents, and dissolved trade unions.
  • There were reports of torture, human rights abuses, and purges within the military and civil service.
  • Civil society and political activism were severely restricted.

Anti-Communism and Cold War Context

  • The junta’s rise to power was influenced by anti-communist sentiments and concerns about communist influence in Greece during the Cold War.
  • The regime received support from the United States and other Western countries due to its anti-communist stance, despite concerns about its authoritarian methods.

Cyprus Crisis and Turkish Invasion

  • In 1974, the junta’s failed coup attempt in Cyprus led to a Turkish military intervention on the island.
  • This crisis further isolated the junta and led to a deterioration of its relationship with King Constantine II.

Fall of the Junta and Restoration of Democracy

  • Public opposition to the junta grew, and a counter-coup by progressive officers within the military in July 1974 marked the beginning of the junta’s downfall.
  • In November 1974, a referendum in Greece resulted in the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of the Third Hellenic Republic.
  • Konstantinos Karamanlis returned from exile to lead Greece’s transition back to democracy.

Aftermath

  • The fall of the junta marked the restoration of democracy in Greece.
  • The period of authoritarian rule had a lasting impact on Greek politics and society, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding democratic institutions and the rule of law.
  • The Colonels’ Junta remains a significant and controversial chapter in modern Greek history, with debates and legal proceedings related to its actions and human rights abuses continuing to this day.

Since the return to democracy, Greece has been a parliamentary republic with regular elections and a democratic political system.

The history of modern democracy in Greece is a journey that has gone through various phases and challenges. Modern Greece democracy is rooted in the historical legacy of ancient Greece, but it took shape in the 19th and 20th centuries. Here’s a detailed overview:

Greece War of Independence (1821 until 1829)

  • The modern Greece democracy has its origins in the Greece War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire, which began in 1821.
  • Early revolutionary leaders, like Alexander Ypsilantis and Theodoros Kolokotronis, sought to establish a democratic and independent Greece state.
  • Philhellenes from Europe supported the Greece cause, and the intervention of major European powers helped secure Greece independence.

First Hellenic Republic (1827 until 1832)

  • The Greece War of Independence led to the establishment of the First Hellenic Republic in 1827, which was a precursor to modern Greece democracy.
  • A provisional constitution was adopted in 1828, emphasizing democratic principles such as the separation of powers and civil liberties.

Bavarian Monarchy and Constitutionalism (1832 until 1862)

  • Otto of Bavaria was installed as the first King of Greece in 1832, marking the beginning of the monarchy in modern Greece.
  • The Greece Constitution of 1844, influenced by liberal European ideas, established a constitutional monarchy.
  • It included provisions for a bicameral parliament, freedom of the press, and the separation of powers.

Political Evolution (Late 19th until Early 20th Century)

  • The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the emergence of political parties and a dynamic political landscape.
  • Greece went through periods of political turmoil and numerous changes in government.

World Wars and Political Shifts (Early 20th Century)

  • Greece participated in the Balkan Wars (1912 until 1913) and World War I (1917 until 1918), experiencing territorial changes and political shifts.
  • A significant political division arose in 1915, known as the “National Schism,” which shaped Greece politics during this period.

Republic and Monarchy (1924 until 1935)

  • Following the Asia Minor Disaster and a military coup in 1922, Greece became a republic in 1924, briefly ending the monarchy.
  • However, a 1935 referendum restored the monarchy, with King George II returning to the throne.

World War II and Civil War (1940s)

  • Greece was occupied by Axis forces during World War II, leading to resistance movements.
  • After the war, a civil war erupted between communist and anti-communist forces, further influencing Greece’s political landscape.

Military Coups and Dictatorship (1967 until 1974)

  • In 1967, a group of military officers staged a coup, leading to a military dictatorship known as the Colonels’ Junta.
  • The junta suppressed democracy and civil liberties until its fall in 1974.

Restoration of Democracy (1974)

  • The fall of the junta marked a turning point in Greece history. In 1974, Greeces voted to abolish the monarchy and establish the Hellenic Republic.
  • A new democratic constitution was adopted in 1975, outlining the structure of the modern Greece state.

Contemporary Greece Democracy

  • Since 1974, Greece has been a parliamentary republic with democratic elections, political parties, and civil liberties.
  • The country has faced political and economic challenges, including the Greece financial crisis (2009 until 2018), which led to austerity measures and social unrest.

Modern Greece democracy continues to evolve, and its political landscape has witnessed a series of elections, coalition governments, and policy reforms. Greece remains a member of the European Union, contributing to the broader European democratic framework.

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