The road to democ­racy

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ELIAS MAGLINIS

The restora­tion of democ­racy in Greece in July 1974, at the time of the Cyprus invasion by Turk­ish forces, was nei­ther easy nor swift. It is widely known (but nev­er­the­less for­got­ten) that democ­racy was not re­stored in a day. Con­stan­tine Kara­man­lis had to do some swift ma­neu­ver­ing and take dras­tic ini­tia­tives in or­der to pre­vent new coup at­tempts. Greek mil­i­tary forces and es­pe­cially lowrank­ing of­fi­cers wanted to re­store the mil­i­tary regime of 1967. In fact, to avoid pos­si­ble ar­rest, Kara­man­lis slept on board a yacht in the Sa­ronic Gulf, so that no one knew where he was. Nev­er­the­less, democ­racy was re­stored, in the sense that a new spirit of par­lia­men­tarism was es­tab­lished in the coun­try. Greeks con­sider this a giv- en to­day – not just those with no rec­ol­lec­tion of the dic­ta­tor­ship but even those who lived in the 1950s and 1960s, a time when the Left was out­lawed, a time of emer­gency court mar­tials and wide­spread spy­ing from paid in­for­mants. How­ever, what hap­pened in 1974 was not a given. It is never cer­tain that a coun­try emerg­ing from a dic­ta­tor­ship will make a smooth tran­si­tion to democ­racy. Greece, how­ever – a coun­try that did not ex­pe­ri­ence the Re­nais­sance, the En­light­en­ment or the in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion, small, weak, agricultural Greece, a coun­try that al­ways de­pended on the kind­ness of for­eign­ers (or their in­ter­ests if they hap­pened to co­in­cide with Greek in­ter­ests) – did not ex­pe­ri­ence the kind of geno­ci­dal jun­tas seen in coun­tries like Chile and Ar­gentina. Greece did not ex­pe­ri­ence decades-span­ning dic­ta­tor­ships like Spain and Por­tu­gal. Tiny Greece, thanks to the as­sis­tance pro­vided by for­eign pow­ers, did not be­come a mem­ber of the com­mu­nist bloc. Sure, Greece had a de­fi­cient democ­racy – in the post-war era. At the same time, how­ever, and de­spite the var­i­ous (pre-war) oc­ca­sional coups (from Theodoros Pan­ga­los in 1925 to Ioan­nis Me­taxas in 1936), cou­pled with the highly di­vi­sive rifts be­tween those in fa­vor of Eleft­he­rios Venize­los and those sup­port­ing the roy­al­ist regime, Greece de­vel­oped a para­dox­i­cally dy­namic par­lia­men­tary tra­di­tion, which en­tered a new phase af­ter 1974. This is the par­lia­men­tary tra­di­tion we have en-

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