History in Greece from 1981 to 2019

History in Greece from 1981 to 2019

Every five years, EU citizens choose those who will represent them in the European Parliament, the institution elected by direct vote and representing their interests in the EU decision-making process.

We are just hours away from the 9th election in a row and hundreds of millions of voters are being asked to elect 751 members of the European Parliament, which will become 705 after the United Kingdom leaves the EU (Brexit).

Greece elects a total of 21 MEPs. The result of the European elections will determine the new political correlations in the European Parliament and the next composition of the Commission, developments that will in turn affect the entire course of the European construction in the next 5 years.

Most of the time, however, from the first Greek European elections onwards, the Greek political parties in power have given the European elections a referendum character, with the result that European issues have taken a back seat during the election periods, which were dominated by the domestic situation in the country.

From 1981, the year in which the first European elections were held in Greece, until 2014, the largest difference between the first and second parties was in 2004, when New Democracy was 9% ahead of PASOK. The big turnaround came in 2014, when SYRIZA, from being the fifth party in the 2009 European elections, emerged as the first party with a 3.85% lead over the second party, ND.

What were the differences between the two first parties in the Greek European elections? In 1981, the difference between PASOK, which was the first party, and ND, which was the second party, was 8.78%. In 1984, PASOK was ahead of ND by 3.55%. In 1989, the New Democracy became the first party with a 4.5% lead over PASOK. In 1994, PASOK was ahead of ND by 4.97%.

In 1999, the New Democracy party became the leading party in the European elections with a 3.35% lead over PASOK. In 2004, the South-West was again the leading political force in the European elections with a 9.02% margin over PASOK. In 2009, PASOK became the first party in the European elections with a 4.35% margin. In 2014, SYRIZA emerged as the first party in the European elections with a difference of 3.85% from ND, which came second.

The 1981 double elections

Since 1979, MEPs have been elected by direct elections throughout the EU. Elections are always held in the new Member States that join the EU, so that they can elect their own representatives to the European Parliament, even in the middle of a parliamentary term. This is what happened in Greece in 1981.

In a double election, on 18 October 1981, Greek voters elected the 300 MPs who would represent them in the Greek Parliament and 24 MEPs who would represent them in the European Parliament. For the first time, Greek voters are called upon to take a stand on the redefinition of national objectives in relation to the European process.

The two elections are held under a different electoral system. The parliamentary elections are based on enhanced proportional representation but the European elections are based on simple proportional representation. MEPs are not elected by cross-list but by list. There were 208 candidates for the European Parliament, 5 752 344 citizens voted in the European elections and the abstention rate was 18.51%, while the abstention rate in the parliamentary elections was the same.

But how did Greeks react to the first European elections in Greece?

The European elections were overshadowed by the national elections during the pre-election period, and the 1981 vote for the European Parliament became a “second vote” with no direct impact on the constitution of political power.

The parties that won the 24 seats in the October 1981 European elections were:

1 Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) 40.12% – 10 seats

2 New Democracy (ND): 31.34% – 8 seats

3 Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 12.84% – 3 seats

4 KKE Domestic (KKEes.): 5.29% – 1 seat

5 KODESO/KEA: 4.25% – 1 seat

6 Progressive Party (CP): 1.95% – 1 seat

From January 1981 until the European elections, Greece’s representatives in the European Parliament were appointed by the Greek Parliament. This was because in the other nine member states of the then EEC the first European elections had been held in 1979, but Greece joined in January 1981. For this reason, the term of office of the 24 Greek MEPs lasted 2.5 years rather than 5 years, until the 1984 European elections.

European elections of 17 June 1984

The second European elections are held in June 1984. Between October 1981 and 17 June 1984, the “Draft Treaty establishing the European Union”, also known as the “Spinelli Plan”, and the progress of discussions on crucial Community issues such as the enlargement of the Community towards the European South and the Common Agricultural Policy. PASOK, as the governing party, has moved from a total questioning of the country’s participation in the EEC. In 1982 it applied for ‘special status’ as regards state monopolies and state-society relations. The EEC rejects the request but agrees to an important financial package, the Mediterranean Integrated Programmes (MIPs), which was adopted by 1985.

The 1984 European elections were a polarising contest with the characteristics of a national election expressed in slogans: “Change” and “Liberation”. New Democracy, under the leadership of Evangelos Averoff, followed a line of frontal conflict, to the point of withdrawing during the debate in Parliament on the recognition of the National Resistance, and was in sharp opposition, and decided to make the European elections a referendum, stating that ‘if in June, if there is a discrepancy between the Parliament and the will of the people, national elections should be called’.

PASOK does not deny the challenge and declares itself ready for an all-out confrontation. The 1984 European elections are locked in a climate of acrimony and polarisation and the cafes in many parts of the country are divided into blue and green.

A month before the European elections, the Greek Parliament amends the 1981 electoral law, abolishing the incompatibility of the status of MP and MEP for the first two positions on the European Parliament list. Evangelos Averoff himself was placed at the head of the New Democracy ballot paper, with Ioannis Boutos, who had been his rival when he contested the party’s presidency in December 1981, in second place. Georgios Mavros and Manolis Glezos were placed in the top two positions on the PASOK European candidate list. The KKE put Grigory Farakos at the head of the European candidate list.

In the 1984 contest, the two-party system won overwhelmingly.

In the 1984 European elections special facilities were introduced to enable Greek citizens who were in another EEC country on the day of the elections to vote. For the first time, EPEN is represented in the European Parliament, calling for the release of the coup plotters.

In June 1984, the following are represented in the European Parliament:

1 Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) with a 41.59% share and 10 seats.

2 New Democracy (ND) with 38.04% and 9 seats

3 Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 11.64% and 3 seats.

4 KKE Domestic (KKEes) with 3.41% and 1 seat

5 EPEN with 2.29% and 1 seat.

European elections 18 June 1989

The 1989 European elections have embodied important developments at the European level. The Treaty of the Single European Act (SEA) has been in force since 1987. It is the Treaty that has made a decisive contribution to the development of the Union, establishing the regulatory framework for the establishment of the single internal market, structural cohesion policy and a range of other accompanying policies. It is also the Treaty that introduced European Political Cooperation, the mechanism for coordinating the external policies of the Member States. Greece, after negotiations with EEC officials, has agreed to the creation of the ‘Mediterranean Integrated Programmes’ (MIPs).

These packages used resources from specific structural funds to finance Mediterranean countries that belonged to the EEC. It was the first organised, planned effort by the EEC to support the development of its members. This was followed in 1988 by the Delors package (1988-1993).

According to the Eurobarometer trends of the time, the majority of Greeks now accept Europe and associate it with the expectation that Greece stands to benefit from its membership of the EEC. Greeks also looked forward to benefits from the forthcoming European Single Market. However, the European Common Market was not at stake in the 1989 European elections.

In Greece, the election campaign focused on the parallel parliamentary elections and the European elections of 18 June 1989 were relegated to the background. This was preceded by Kostas Simitis’ strict stabilisation programme to prevent the economy from collapsing, a storm of political and social reactions, the expulsion of 70 trade unionists from the party, the split in the GSEE, Simitis’ resignation from the Ministry of National Economy when Andreas Papandreou announced a different income policy from the one announced by his minister.

The European elections of 18 June 1989 take place while the revelations about the Koskotas scandal and the Bank of Crete dominate. Already in the autumn of 1988, newspapers that had been supporting PASOK up to that time were sharply critical of Andreas Papandreou and those ministers who were believed to have collaborated with Koskotas. The parliamentary elections of 18 June 1989, held by the government of Andreas Papandreou, brought the New Democracy party under Konstantinos Mitsotakis into first place, but without a parliamentary majority, a result that led to the government of Tzanetakis. Greece was led to new parliamentary elections and the government of Konstantinos Mitsotakis.

With the European elections of 18 June 1989, the European Parliament is represented:

1 New Democracy (ND) with 40.44% and 10

2 Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) with 35.94% and 9 seats.

3 Coalition of Left and Progress (SYN) with 14.30% and 4 seats

4 Democratic Renewal (DIANA) with 1.36% and 1 seat

European elections 12 June 1994

Between the third European elections in 1989 and the fourth European elections on 12 June 1994, the fourth in a row, there have been events related to European integration. In 1992 the Treaty of Maastricht, the Treaty on European Union, was signed and entered into force in 1993. This is the Treaty that replaced the European Community with the European Union and has three pillars: the institutional framework for the establishment of EMU, which emphasised the monetary aspect and set the criteria for the membership of each Member State in EMU; the establishment of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP); the establishment of the arrangements for dealing with internal security issues.

On 1 November 1993, the ‘Treaty on European Union’ entered into force and from that date, the European Community was renamed the ‘European Union’. One year before the 1994 European elections, the powers of the European Parliament are extended. However, at the same time as expectations of European integration were being raised, unemployment rates in Europe were steadily rising. Along with the unemployment rates, there is also a decline in the positive attitude of European citizens, who are disappointed with the European project and feel that their countries are not benefiting from it.

In Greece, the early national elections in 1993, which were triggered by the fall of the Mitsotakis government, have taken place. Andreas Papandreou returned to power. Previously, in April 1993, the UN Security Council had accepted the accession of the neighbouring country under the name FYROM.

In February 1994, a few months before the European elections, the Greek government imposed a trade embargo on the neighbouring country and the European Commission filed an injunction against Greece and referred it to the European Court of Justice. Moreover, in 1992, the Mitsotakis government had announced austerity measures and an extensive privatisation programme for ailing companies. Despite these developments, the Eurobarometer survey shows that Greek respondents insist on supporting the European project, but the 1994 European elections were rather muted. On 29 July 1992, the Greek Parliament ratifies the Maastricht Treaty by a large majority. The KKE was the only party to oppose it.

The election campaign was not based on mass rallies, printed campaign material was limited and the “battle” is mainly fought by private television stations, which have been a new reality since the early 1990s. On the eve of the 1994 European elections, the press on the eve of the European elections was dominated by ‘Skopje’, Greek-Turkish relations and the economy, not by European issues. As the 1994 European elections were held shortly after the change of government, they were conducted in a low-key manner.

The electoral system was similar to the previous European elections, the simple proportional representation system. The number of MEPs was increased from 24 to 25 and, for the first time in a European contest, the 3% threshold was set. The victim of the 3% is the DÍANA, which, although it increased its share, was left out of the European Parliament because it gained 2.8%. In the 1994 European elections, there was a regulation for the heterodemocrats. The abstention rate reached 22.14%.

In the European elections of 12 June 1994, the following are represented in the European Parliament:

1 The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) with a 37.60% share and 10 seats.

2 New Democracy (ND) with 32.63% and 9 seats

3 Political Spring (Polan) with 8.67% and 2 seats

4 Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 6.29% and 2 seats

5 Coalition of Left and Progress (SYN) with 6.26% and 2 seats.

European elections 13 June 1999

The 1999 European elections were held on Sunday 13 June. The period 1994-1995 has incorporated important events. In 1996 Andreas Papandreou passed away. Costas Simitis becomes Prime Minister, Greece experiences the Imia affair. In 1997, Kostas Karamanlis, MP for Thessaloniki, is elected president of the New Democracy party. In 1998, Konstantinos Karamanlis passes away. Greece becomes a member of the EMU. In 1999, the Athens Stock Exchange is in a frenzy. Greeks give up their salaries and pensions, run to the banks and take out loans to take part in the incredible stock market gambling, unaware of the evil that will… fall on their heads shortly afterwards.

In the same year, 1999, the Treaty of Amsterdam comes into force, which fills some of the gaps in the Maastricht Treaty and establishes the post of High Representative for the management of the Common Foreign Policy. In the Treaty of Amsterdam, Greece succeeds in passing a regulation on the protection of the borders and the integrity of the Member States. In March 1999, the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia begins.

In Greece, the two major parties make the 1999 European elections a referendum. PASOK focused on the course to EMU, the national economy and even the Stock Exchange. The poster with the slogan ‘1,000,000 investors know that shares have value’ is typical.

In PASOK’s political posters, the main messages for the European elections are “Greece first” and “Strong Economy – Strong Greece”. The main slogan in the New Democracy campaign is “New Start”. The main slogan of the KKE is “NO to EMU. Vote for the KKE” while the posters are dominated by the slogan “Profits to capital, suffering to the people”. The basic message of the electoral declaration of SYN is “Stop the war – change Europe – change Greece”.

In the European elections of 13 June 1999, PASOK suffers significant losses and loses the first place in the voters’ preferences. The abstention rate reaches 29.75%. Political Spring fails to reach 3% and is left out of the European Parliament.

In the European elections of 13 June 1999, the following are represented in the European Parliament

1 New Democracy with 35.98% and 9 seats

2 PASOK with 32.92% and 9 seats

3 KKE with 8.67% and 3 seats

4 PPP with 6.85% of the votes and 2 seats

5 Coalition with 5.17% and 2 seats

European elections 13 June 2004

European citizens go to the polls on 13 June 2004. The Treaty of Nice (2003), which paved the way for the major enlargement of the EU and promoted defence integration, has already entered into force. The differences over the European Constitution are proving unbridgeable. The 11 September 2001 attack on the twin towers in New York has shaped a new reality for Europe and the world. In March 2003, American and British soldiers invade Iraq and Europe is unable to play a decisive role in the war.

In Greece, a few months before the European elections, the citizens have once again gone to the polls for the parliamentary elections, which were won by the New Democracy party under the presidency of Constantine Karamanlis. George Papandreou is now President of PASOK. Against this background, the campaign period for the 2004 European elections has been low-key and has changed in tone. “Next to the citizen – Strong in Europe” is the main message of the New Democracy campaign. “Strength for Greece in Europe” was the main message of the PASOK election campaign. The “NO to the Euro-mode. Resistance, Disobedience, Disobedience, Discipline, Disengagement from the EU” was the message of the KKE.

“There is another way. Take the Left”, was one of the central slogans of the Coalition. On 8 June 2004, viewers watch the debate (telecombat) of the political leaders in view of the European elections. Of the 40 questions put to the political leaders, only 4 questions were related to European issues. The issues dominating the election period are therefore the economy and the Olympic Games.

In the European elections of 13 June 2004, Greece elects 24 Members of Parliament under the Treaty of Nice.

In the European elections of 13 June 2004, the abstention rate reached 36.82%.

The parties were represented in the European Parliament as follows:

1 New Democracy with 43.03% and 11 seats

2 PASOK with 34.01% and 8 seats

3 KKE with 9.48% and 3 seats

4 Coalition with 4.16% and 1 seat

5 LAOS with 4.12% and 1 seat.

European elections 7 June 2009

In Greece, in the European elections of 7 June 2009, the real winner was the abstention rate of 47.37%. New Democracy, which had taken over the country’s government by securing a clear victory in the 2004 parliamentary elections, saw its first clouds three years later, in the 2007 national elections, in which the two-party system suffered its first major blow.

The electoral system in the 2009 European elections was simple proportional representation, MEPs were elected by a list procedure and a minimum of 3% for entry into the European Parliament, while Greece’s seats were reduced by two (22 out of 24). PASOK came out first and New Democracy second, so in the 2009 European elections the electoral map became green again.

The President of SYN since 2008 is Alexis Tsipras, who was elected, for the first time as a member of parliament, a few months after the European elections, i.e. in the parliamentary elections of October 2009.

The period from the 2004 European elections to the 2009 European elections incorporates serious developments in the Greek economy. Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis has undertaken a financial inventory which reveals expenditure concealments by the previous government, resulting in an upward revision of the deficits of previous years.

This led to a reduction in the country’s credibility and three years of EU surveillance. The Eurostatistic Office (Eurostat) has proceeded to review previous Greek deficits, which showed that Greece never met the Maastricht convergence criteria, since even in the critical year of 1999 it still had a deficit of more than 3%.

In the three years 2004-2007 the debt as a percentage of GDP has increased and since the autumn of 2008 things have become even more difficult. A few months after the European elections in June 2009, and with an unpleasant climate abroad for the Greek economy, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis announces early elections for 4 October 2009.

With the European elections of 7 June 2009, they are represented in the European Parliament:

1 PASOK with 36.64% of the votes and 8 seats

2 New Democracy with 32.29% of the votes and 8 seats

3 KKE with 8.35% and 2 seats

4 LAOS with 7.15% and 2 seats

5 SYRIZA with 4.70% and 1 seat

6 oikologoi greens with 3.49% and 1 seat.

European elections 25 May 2014

The 2014 European elections were held in Greece on 25 May. The electoral system was simple proportional representation and for the first time the cross-list procedure was used instead of a list.

Greece was entitled to elect 21 MEPs, one less than in previous European elections, due to Croatia’s entry into the European Union and the redistribution of seats.

The winner of the European elections was the Coalition of the Radical Left, with New Democracy coming second. Golden Dawn came third.

The abstention rate reached 40.03%.

The result was the result of major political upheavals since the Memoranda and the Troika were in Greece. This was preceded by the 2012 parliamentary elections that saw SYRIZA emerge as the second party with PASOK seeing a significant drop in its electoral strength.

In the European elections of May 2014:

SYRIZA received 26.57% and 6 seats

ND received 22.72% and 5 seats.

CHRYSI AYGI received 9.39% of the vote and 3 seats

ELIA received 8.02% and 2 seats

POTAMI obtained 6.60% and 2 seats

the KKE received 6.11% and 2 seats

the Independent Greeks received 3.46% and 1 seat

Εuropean elections 2019

The 2019 European elections in Greece were held on 26 May 2019. The electoral system was simple proportional representation, with a cross-list procedure for the election of MEPs. Apart from Greece, polling stations were set up for Greeks abroad in London, Brussels and other European capitals.

New Democracy was the leading party with 33.12% and eight seats in the European Parliament (it came first in the majority of constituencies), while SYRIZA won 23.75% and six seats in the European Parliament (it came first in six constituencies: the constituencies of Achaia, Arta, Heraklion, Chania, Chania, Piraeus and the new constituency of the Western Sector of Athens). The Movement of Change, the KKE and Golden Dawn also secured election of representatives to the European Parliament. The election of a Member of the European Parliament was also achieved by the newly founded Hellenic Solution, led by Kyriakos Velopoulos, which received votes mainly from the constituencies of Macedonia. Finally, in the constituencies of Xanthi and Rodopi, once again (after the 2014 European elections), the Muslim Equality, Peace and Friendship Party came first in terms of votes. However, it did not elect a Member of the European Parliament, due to the very low rates at the national level, as it runs candidates exclusively in the minority prefectures of Thrace.

The turnout amounted to 58.69% and the percentage of white-negative voters to 4.47%.