Constantine C. Konstantinos Karamanlis (Kyoupchioi (today”s Proti Serron), 8 March 1907 – Athens, 23 April 1998) was a Greek politician who served four times as Prime Minister of Greece and twice as President of the Hellenic Republic.
He initially practiced law and became a politician in the 1930s as a candidate for the People”s Party. During the civil war he served as minister of various ministries, including Minister of Transport, a position from which he was responsible for the abolition of the tram network. Later, he joined the Hellenic Rally of Alexandros Papagos and after Papagos” death was appointed Prime Minister by King Paul in 1955.
During his first premiership, in the eight years 1955-1963, he implemented a programme of rapid industrialisation, investment in infrastructure and improvement of agricultural production, which led from the early 1950s to the Greek economic miracle. He also implemented the granting of full voting rights to women. At the same time, he pioneered the release of war criminals (Merten affair) and the conclusion of a loan to Greece from Germany, as well as political interventions in the Church for the election of the Archbishop of Athens. Abroad, he negotiated the Zurich-London Accords, by which Cyprus became an independent state. After the emergence of the EDA as the main opposition in 1958, he set up state committees to coordinate state action against the left and through them approved the implementation of the ”Pericles” plan to limit its electoral performance in the 1961 elections. After a conflict with the palace, he resigned as prime minister in 1963 and moved to Paris, where he remained until 1974.
He was a committed pro-European and is credited with the integration of Greece into the European Families. In 1978 he was awarded the Charlemagne Prize. His supporters have given him the title of “National Leader”.
He was born in 1907 in the village of Kyupkioi in the Ottoman Empire (today”s Proti Serron). He was the eldest son of a primary school teacher, Georgios Karamanlis, who fought in the Macedonian War and then engaged in tobacco farming and trade. His mother was Fotini Dologlou. Constantine Karamanlis had three brothers and three sisters who were, in order of birth, Olga (1911), Alekos (1914), Athena (9 December 1916-28 December 2015), Antigone (1921), Grammenos (1925) and Achilles (1929).
He attended the primary school of Proti Serres, then the semi-gymnasium of Nea Zichni, a town in the region, and then (1920) the Gymnasium of Serres. In 1923 he moved to Athens. Initially he attended the Lyceum of Megareos and then graduated from the 8th Gymnasium of Athens (in Kypseli). He studied at the Law School of the University of Athens (1925-1929) where he received his law degree on 13 December 1929. After serving a 4-month military service as a member of a large family, he practiced law in Serres from 1930 to 1935. He stood for and was elected at the age of 28 as a proxy of Serres with the People”s Party in the 1935 elections for the constituent assembly, from which the Liberal Party abstained. His consolidation in local politics was confirmed when he was re-elected as a deputy in the elections for the Third Revisionist Assembly in January 1936, when the Venizelists were also present and a system of simple proportional representation was in force.
The dictatorship of 4 August 1936 interrupted his political career. He returned to Serres, where he practiced law until 1941. During the Occupation he remained in Athens without becoming actively involved in politics. In the period 1942-1943 he participated in an informal group of political reflection called the ”Socialist Union”, which was made up of notable later politicians and bankers such as Konstantinos Tsatsos, Georgios Mavros, Petros Garoufalias, Angelos Angelopoulos and Xenophon Zolotas. His assessment of the team”s effectiveness was negative. He felt that its reflection was not politically but rather academically oriented.
In the summer of 1944 Karamanlis tried to become more actively involved in political developments, escaping by boat to the Middle East, where a new government-in-exile had been formed under Georgios Papandreou after the Lebanese Congress. However, his passage was long delayed, so that when Karamanlis finally arrived in Cairo in October, Athens had just been liberated from the Germans and he was due to return at the end of the same month.
As Minister of Transport, he fully restored within six months the transport network damaged by the war and the civil conflicts. Under his ministry, the rails of the Athens Tramway and Thessaloniki Tramway network, which by 1960 had been wiped off the transport map, were dismantled. Specifically, in Athens on 16 November 1953 the tram lines were dismantled and on the same day the operation of the Patissia-Abelokipi and Kypseli-Pangrati lines ceased. For this attitude, he was accused of serving the interests of the rising automobile lobby and bus drivers. In Thessaloniki, in particular, the monopolistic management of public transport by the buses of OASTH was scandalously chosen, without trolleybuses being used in place of trams, as was the case in Athens. Karamanlis promoted legislation where the state could now seek renegotiation of contracts. This stance raised his political profile due to serving the public interest, but the revision legislation was abandoned by the major parties and cost Karamanlis his position in the Ministry of Transport due to pressure from the British agent on Chaldaris and Sofoulis. The then Mayor of Thessaloniki, Minas Patrikios, expressed his opposition to the dismantling of the trams and the bus monopoly of the newly established OASTH. The abolition of the trams was a matter of heated political debate which was highlighted by the opposition and, in combination with the demolition of neoclassical buildings – which was carried out at the time in order to build apartment blocks – is considered a dark page in the history of Athens and at the same time of Karamanlis.
He gained great publicity because of his work in the Ministry of Social Welfare, where he moved in 1948. In the latter ministry, where his presence was relatively long, he concentrated his efforts on the management of the programme for the settlement in urban centres and then resettlement in the provinces of the refugees of the civil war. In particular, he created the Welfare-Labour Programme for the repatriation and employment of 700,000 rural refugees. In addition, it allocated 60,000 weapons to civilians through Security Centers to provide security for the returnees and relieve the military, despite Sophocles Venizelos” reservations about their possible use in a communist uprising. Within a year, 486,000 refugees were repatriated, while another 236,000 were awaiting repatriation.
As he was distinguished for his administrative ability, his next step, after his re-election as a deputy of Serres in the March 1950 elections, where the People”s Party was defeated, was to take over the Ministry of National Defence for a short period (September-November 1950) in a new short-lived government of a People”s-Liberal coalition. He left the People”s Party in November 1950. Following various internal party moves, he finally joined the party of the ”Hellenic Synagogue”, founded by Marshal Alexandros Papagos in August 1951, with which he was re-elected MP for Serres in September 1951 and November 1952, when the Synagogue won the elections with an overwhelming parliamentary majority. By this time Karamanlis was now quite prominent, but not yet a first-ranking parliamentarian. His brief passage from the Ministry of National Defence constituted a distinction, but it must be taken into account that the army was institutionally autonomous under the Commander-in-Chief Papagos and political control of the armed forces was non-existent. Subsequently, Karamanlis had played a leading role in the search for an alternative party in the conservative political arena, and he even participated in the leadership team of the People”s Unionist Party, together with Stefanos Stephanopoulos and Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, but as Karamanlis himself admitted, the project did not resonate with the electorate and the participants survived politically only after Marshal Papagos became personally involved in politics as the head of a new political movement.
Karamanlis did not belong to Papagos” close circle of associates, nor to the leading group of the Synagerimos, which was initially dominated by Spyridon Markezinis and then by Stephanopoulos and Kanellopoulos.
On 5 October 1955, King Pavlos I, the day after the death of Prime Minister Alexandros Papagos after a long illness, gave Karamanlis the mandate to form a new government from the majority party. His appointment came as a general surprise to public opinion, which had expected the succession to be decided between the two vice-presidents of the government, Stephanos Stephanopoulos and Panagiotis Kanellopoulos. Karamanlis, although a distinguished minister, did not yet have a leadership image and was not considered a candidate for the succession, despite the fact that there were some indications in the Athens press, especially in the last twenty days before Papagos” death.
There were three main reasons that led the king to choose Karamanlis. The two vice-presidents were antagonistic to each other and the choice of one or the other could test the cohesion of the Coalition. In the prevailing anti-communist climate of the time, the crown felt that the cohesion of the Synagermos was the only reliable political bulwark against the left, unlike the centre, which was fragmented, with parts of it making or seeking alliances with the left. Also, the two vice-presidents were not particularly popular. Stephanopoulos was burdened as foreign minister with the unsuccessful handling of the Cyprus problem, which had been exacerbated after the pogrom against the Greeks in Istanbul in September 1955, and Kanellopoulos, like Stephanopoulos, lacked the image of a strong politician who would be able to control the situation and give concrete direction to the government”s work. The king still believed that any other choice would necessarily be temporary, while Karamanlis, young at 48 years of age, could give the image of a renewed political staff, which was often reduced to endless conflicts between acquaintances with obvious consequences for governmental stability. The pursuit of governmental stability was of particular importance in the political reflection of the time and permeated the thinking of political actors, both parliamentary and non-parliamentary. Economic growth, both in itself and as a means of social stabilisation and halting the rise of the left, became central, and its precondition was government stability.
Finally, the handling of the Cyprus problem was another crucial factor that weighed on the choice of the king. Marshal Papagos had sought to place the question of the union of Cyprus with Greece in the bilateral framework of Greek-British relations, hoping for an amicable settlement of the issue. The blunt rejection of his request by the British Foreign Secretary in September 1953 prompted Papagos to internationalise the issue by appealing to the UN. The appeal was not successful, as Greece faced the negative attitude of the United States, which emphasized the need to maintain the British presence in the eastern Mediterranean and Greek-Turkish cooperation as a precondition for the effective functioning of NATO”s south-eastern wing. The Turkish factor was becoming of major importance for Western strategy and Turkish opposition was sharpening, negatively affecting the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Greek minority.
Greek public opinion and parts of the political forces of the non-communist opposition gradually adopted a critical attitude towards both the American policy and what they considered to be the failed policy of promoting the national claim by the government of the Coalition. What was called into question was not an isolated handling of foreign policy, but the foundation of the post-civil war political settlement. Karamanlis, in September 1955, criticized the Papagos government”s policy at a cabinet meeting as maximalist. The basic premise of his position was that Athens could not immediately seek self-determination, i.e. union, but had to be content for an indefinite period with a regime of broad self-government of Cyprus under British rule. American consensus was a necessary precondition for the success of Athens” aspirations and Washington had opposed from the outset the Greek policy of internationalisation of the issue. Therefore, Greek policy had to be aimed at achieving the limited but feasible goal of self-government with American support in order to avoid a major foreign entanglement with disintegrating consequences at home. “We are called upon to choose between an undiscriminating policy at the risk of compounding our present difficulties and a mild policy with the result that we suffer national humiliation and disappoint the Greek people. We will not be able to escape from this impasse unless we bring about a direct intervention by America which will satisfy Greece substantially and morally.”
The perceptions of the crown contributed to the version of Karamanlis” perceptions of the need to settle the Cyprus problem within the allied framework, as did the perceptions of the American factor, strong in the Greek post-civil war context. The Americans noted with satisfaction Karamanlis”s position on this issue in September 1955 and took into account the possibility of his ascension to the premiership. Regardless of the timing of the King”s choice of Karamanlis”s appointment, as it is likely that the Americans did not anticipate his promotion to the Prime Minister”s office immediately after Papagos”s death, the American factor welcomed Karamanlis”s appointment with satisfaction, as it was considered to be the only available solution for achieving political stability, which in Washington”s view was not offered by the fragmented centre, and for anchoring Greece in the Western coalition. The American factor also took into account that Karamanlis had demonstrated administrative ability and disciplined and effective work, necessary elements for the successful promotion of an economic development programme that would achieve long-term social stability and the neutralisation of the left.
From 1956 to 1958, the businessman and former supplier of the Nazi occupation authorities Konstantinos Gertsos was the main financier of Konstantinos Karamanlis, according to CIA documents. The document states that he gave him a villa in Montreux and later built two apartment buildings in Switzerland on his behalf. In return, Karamanlis signed a decree returning to the Gertzos brothers all their property in Greece.
The next elections were held prematurely in May 1958. It was the result of the acute foreign policy problems facing the government, most importantly the Cyprus problem and the installation of American medium-range missiles in Greece, which was opposed by a wide range of public opinion. These were combined with an attempt by part of the centrist opposition to exploit internal party opposition to the Karamanlis leadership. In political circles in Athens, but also in diplomatic circles in the Greek capital of Great Britain and the United States, though not Washington, the view that the Cyprus problem could be resolved amicably within the framework of the interests of the Atlantic Alliance was gaining weight. A precondition would be the formation of a broad-based government in Greece with the participation of at least part of the centrist opposition.
Apart from this, court circles, but probably not the kings themselves, were looking to weaken Karamanlis and force him to form a coalition government with a part of the centre. The crisis erupted on 1 March 1958, after the resignation of two ministers, Georgios Rallis and Panagios Papaligouras, collaborators before and after Karamanlis. In addition, 13 other deputies resigned, thus depriving EPE of its parliamentary self-reliance. Karamanlis faced the crisis with confidence, asking the king for elections. Although there was talk of the need to form a coalition government, parliamentary arithmetic favoured Karamanlis, as no government could emerge without his consent. And the dissidents appeared uncertain about their electoral appeal, but also unprepared to put forward an alternative. Still, Americans became clear that they did not favour unstable coalition governments. Moreover, the leader of the Liberals, Georgios Papandreou, was not talking about a coalition government, like his co-leader Sophocles Venizelos, but about holding elections under an electoral system that he believed would be favourable to his party and its leadership. It was supposed that the small centrist parties would be forced to join the Liberals or, failing that, would disappear.
Release of war criminals – The Merten case
In November 1958, the Merten Case, involving Max Merten, an officer of the Nazi occupation forces, who was accused of war crimes, took on a new dimension. The ERE government submitted and passed a bill amending the previous relevant law and allowing the release of war criminals who had already been convicted and were being held in Greek prisons. The actions of the Karamanlis Government were carried out at the suggestion of the Germans as, in the autumn of 1958, a loan of 200 million marks was taken out by Germany for Greece.
According to CIA documents that came to light in 2015, the corrupt Nazi businessman Konstantinos Gertsos financed Max Merten so that he would not reveal Konstantinos Karamanlis” involvement in the whole affair.
The performance of the EDA in the 1958 elections caused the concern of the Karamanlis government and the extra-parliamentary centres of power, such as the Palace, the army and US agencies operating in Greece. The May elections were followed by a wave of government repression of the left, which included deportations of supporters and members of the EDA, which was placed in political isolation by the ERE. A few days after the elections, Karamanlis met with like-minded friends to discuss how to deal with the rise of the left. Shortly afterwards, an “unseen” Special Committee of Ministers was set up to determine measures to deal with “communist activity” and “propaganda” and, on Karamanlis” orders, a Special Advisory Committee under the Special Studies Service of the KYP, where the future dictator George Papadopoulos was serving, was set up to assist the Special Committee by dealing with organisational matters.
From the beginning of 1959, the coordination of anti-communist state activity was taken over by the General Directorate of Press and Information (GDTI), which was attached to the Ministry of the Presidency of the Government, which was considered more competent for this task. In order to enable the GIDP to fulfil its mission, for which it recruited collaborators specialising in anti-communist activity, such as Eleftherios Stavridis and Georgios Georgalas, the secret funds allocated to it were tripled from 27 to 77 million drachmas. To better concentrate the relevant responsibilities, the planning and coordination of the government”s policy in this area was assigned in the spring of 1960 to the Directorate of Intelligence, which was reconstituted as the Intelligence Service and whose head was appointed a retired officer, formerly of the IDF. The organisational inadequacy of the Intelligence Service and the overlapping of its responsibilities with related services led to the establishment in the summer of 1960 of a primary committee with a reporting function and a secondary Coordination Committee, established by a decree issued by Karamanlis as Minister of National Defence. The Secondary Committee was composed of senior officers of the army, security and intelligence services, all of them former members of the IDF, members of which, despite its suspension, continued conspiratorial plots. The task of the Secondary was to coordinate the ”intelligence and enlightenment” services and to recommend to the government measures relating to the ”anti-communist struggle”.
In 1959 Constantine Karamanlis co-signed the Zurich-London Agreements, which ended British rule over Cyprus and established an independent Cypriot state with Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom as guarantors.
On 14 and 15 February 1961 Konstantinos Karamanlis visited London, where he had important talks with his British counterpart Harold Macmillan, as Greece was preparing to sign an association agreement with the EEC and the United Kingdom was preparing to apply for membership. On 22 May he met in Athens with US Vice President Lyndon Johnson, who gave assurances that US assistance to Greece would continue. From 12 to 16 April, Konstantinos Karamanlis visited Canada, discussing in Ottawa mainly economic issues with Canadian Prime Minister John Difenbaker. He then visited the USA. The timing and political context of the Greek Prime Minister”s visit to the United States could perhaps not have been worse: he arrived in Washington, coming from Canada, on the day of the invasion of Cuba by thousands of Fidel Castro”s opponents, with Miami as his base and American support. Despite all his preoccupation with this crisis, however, US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy not only met with Constantine Karamanlis on 17 April, but also found time to have two altogether lengthy conversations with him. The atmosphere was warm not only during the political discussions but also at the reception at the Greek Embassy. Before the end of the visit, on 20 April, the Greek Prime Minister laid a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery. In the joint communiqué Konstantinos Karamanlis expressed the gratitude of the Greek people “for the decision of the United States to continue to support the efforts of Greece in the implementation of its economic development programmes”.
In 1959 Georgios Papadopoulos was assigned to the KPS with responsibility for communication with foreign secret services.
Elections 1961 and the Pericles Plan
The fourth government of Karamanlis was formed after the parliamentary elections of 1961 and lasted from November 1961 to June 1963.
Karamanlis resigned on 20 September and a caretaker government was appointed with Konstantinos Dovas as prime minister. The next elections were set to take place on 29 October 1961. Their conduct was heavily influenced by the previous elections and the electoral success of the EDA. The latter”s performance created a climate of great concern both in the government and the crown and among all the bourgeois political forces. The unification of the centrist forces as a strategic choice to limit the electoral power of the communist left took place just on the eve of the announcement of the elections under the leadership of Georgios Papandreou and the participation of Sophocles Venizelos[citation pending] The caretaker government left the Secondary Committee with the same composition to continue unhindered its work to influence the results of the elections.
There were violent incidents during the election campaign against supporters and MPs of the EDA (then called “PAME”) and the Centre Union. There were also deaths in the clashes: Stefanos Veldemiris in Thessaloniki on 26 October by a policeman”s gunfire and the second death on election Sunday was the soldier Dionysios Kerpiniotis, a member of the EDA, with a bullet wound in the head, at the polling station in the village of Demiri in Arcadia. Particularly in the province, the army, gendarmerie and paramilitaries exerted psychological pressure on citizens not to participate in the EDA”s election events and not to vote for it. Violence was even used against Union Centre candidates. The fraud involved false entries in the electoral rolls and double voting. Typically, 218 gendarmes were found to be registered as living in the same two-storey house.
The elections took place on 29 October 1961 in a climate of great tension and incident. The Karamanlis government, the Security Forces and the Armed Forces were accused of extensive pre-election terrorism against the Centre and Left parties and of rigging the election results with the Pericles Plan.
Today, the fraud in the 1961 elections is not disputed, but it is believed that it did not have a decisive influence on the result, as Konstantinos Karamanlis” EPE had a clear advantage over its opponents. The revelation of the plan caused a sensation and tarnished the image of the Prime Minister of the period in question, Constantine Karamanlis, who was forced to admit the existence of the plan, but claimed that it was not intended to be implemented in the 1961 elections, except in case of external or internal danger.The former King Constantine claims in his memoirs that the rigging was done by Karamanlis purely for his own convenience.
Intervention in the election of the Archbishop
On 8 January 1962 Archbishop Theoklitos II (Panagiotopoulos) died at the age of 72 and a crisis broke out in the Orthodox hierarchy. The then Karamanlis Government, pressured by the parochial centres and observing the general reactions, contrary to the abnormal time, which had been taught until then in similar cases for the preparation of candidates, hurriedly fixed, for the first time, a date for the election of an archbishop, through the competent Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, Kassimatis, just two days after the funeral of the deceased bishop, thus causing the general indignation of the hierarchs, since in fact the preparation for election was taking place over the skeleton of the deceased archbishop. Thus the election was set for January 13, 1962. The proposal to postpone the election was not accepted by the government. The most essential aspect of the government”s opposition to the candidacy of Iakovos Vavanatsos was his intention to create a kind of ecclesiastical bank, which would administer the property of the Church of Greece. The implementation of this plan would seriously damage the interests of the National Bank, in which to this day the church funds are deposited. James” refusal to resign – despite government pressure on him – led to drastic state intervention: A meeting of ministers was convened under Prime Minister Constantine Karamanlis, followed by an announcement in which the government declared itself ready to bring to Parliament a bill providing that the Church”s primate would be elected by a mixed body of clergy and laity, and that in the event of a split over the person of the elected archbishop, this body could declare the archbishop”s throne vacant. This move forced James to retreat. He convened the Holy Synod for the following day, January 25, and submitted his resignation, the text of which contained criticisms of the government.
Dowry of Princess Sophia
In March 1962, the Karamanlis government, at the insistent request of the then Queen Frederica, passed the law “on the establishment of a providence for Princess Sophia” with a final amount of 9 million drachmas (30,000 gold pounds) and a charge to the Greek state budget. According to the law, the dowry was exempt from all taxes and could be converted into foreign currency.
The endowment of 9 million drachmas was the occasion for the relations between the Palace and the political world and the citizens to cool down even more. The slogan “Dowry to Education, not to Sophia” was heard at the student mobilizations, at a time when the government of Constantine Karamanlis was endowing Sophia with 30,000 golden pounds (9 million drachmas at the time), while at the same time stubbornly refusing any increase in spending on education.
For the dowry in view of the marriage of her daughter Sofia to Juan Carlos, Frederica personally pressed Prime Minister Karamanlis to set a large sum from the state budget. The Prime Minister”s response was that the Queen should wait for the government to consult with the parties beforehand, so that the opposition would not start attacks on the government and the crown. Frederick, however, kept up the formidable pressure until finally Karamanlis obeyed the pressures of the Palace and its pro-royalist cadres. Information from the British Embassy in Athens indicated that no one was informed, at least publicly, of the actual amount of the dowry and claimed that 100,000-200,000 gold pounds came out of the coffers of the state.
Increase in sponsorship to the kings
In September 1962, by decision of the Karamanlis government, after intense pressure from the palaces on him, the sponsorship to the Royal Family was increased from 11,500,000 drachmas to 17,000,000 drachmas, causing protests. He was also criticised for the expenses of various events such as the centenary celebrations of the royal institution with the parallel invitation of the Danish royal family. A special sponsorship of $83,600 per year was even established for the then heir to the throne, Constantine.
Political crisis and tours
On 31 August 1962, Konstantinos Karamanlis received for the second time in two years the American Vice President Lyndon Johnson, who promised a loan on favourable terms and F-104 aircraft.
The last phase of Karamanlis” first prime ministry coincides with the acute political crisis, which has as its starting point the disputed elections of October 1961. Karamanlis argued that neither had he himself planned and attempted to interfere with the state apparatus in the elections, nor, in any case, had the result been altered in such a way as to call his victory into question.
On 28 February 1963, Prime Minister Karamanlis, accompanied by Foreign Minister Evangelos Averoff, began a tour of Western Europe with the main aim of strengthening relations with the EEC and promoting economic objectives. The first stop on the tour was the Netherlands. This was followed by Luxembourg and finally France, where he was received by Charles de Gaulle.
Greece-EOK Association Agreement
The strategic goal of the radical current of Greek liberalism, already from the 1930s, based on the traditions of the Modern Greek Enlightenment, was the integration of Greece with the other countries of Western Europe. The reasons were cultural, but also economic. After the creation of the EEC and the EFTA, there was intense debate as to which of the two the country should seek to join. In the end, the Karamanlis governments chose the former mainly because it emphasised agricultural products, while the latter particularly emphasised heavy industry, which Greece lacked. After lengthy negotiations – with the participation in particular of Evangelos Averoff, Giangos Peshmazoglou and Xenophontos Zolotas – the Association Agreement was signed and Greece became the first associated member of the EEC on 1 November 1962. The Agreement provided for :
The Agreement was indeed implemented – not without difficulties – until 21 April 1967, when it was suspended. It is considered to have been the first decisive step towards Greece”s full accession to the EEC, which took place in 1979.
When Karamanlis became prime minister in October 1955, Greece was a poor agricultural country. The per capita income was about $300. The Greek political class and the majority of the elite of economic thought had already concluded by the early 1950s that industrialization was the only path to prosperity and social and political stability. Both at the time and in retrospect it seems that this choice was not, and could not be, justified. Executives of the US Economic Mission and the US administration, as well as internationally renowned economists such as Kyriakos Varvaressos, warned of the impracticality of this strategy, pointing to the small size of the Greek market, the lack of capital, but also the lack of entrepreneurial talent and skills necessary to undertake business projects that required discipline, patience and possibly a tradition unrelated to the historical development of the Greek economy and the culture of the Greek business world.
Nevertheless, the choice of industrialisation can be understood in the context of the perceptions and representations of the time. Industry was synonymous with a strong economy that could generalise prosperity, it was identified with a higher level of technical development, the potential of the service sector had not been fully explored and the productive base was synonymous with manufacturing. The choice of industrialisation did not only concern Greece, but also other countries with a large agricultural sector, and was part and priority of the development strategy. The examples of Spain, France and Italy, which had an industrial sector but refrained from expanding it, are very characteristic and highlight the fact that the conception of the Greek development strategy was part of more general international trends.
From 1951 to 1955, the governments of the centre and of the National Socialist Party had achieved, the first one the stabilisation of public finances in view of the cut in US aid, and the second one the monetary stabilisation through the devaluation of the drachma. The Coalition government had also tried to attract capital and investment from abroad, either by introducing protective legislation for foreign investors or by seeking assistance and financing for development projects in the United States and Europe. The results were limited and the structural problems of the economy remained acute. Agriculture was unable to sustain the rural population, as the land was small and fragmented and traditional agricultural products such as tobacco and raisins did not always find markets for export. Military expenditure absorbed a large part of public expenditure, the tariff remained high as the impact of the 1953 devaluation had not been absorbed.
Karamanlis” strategy for growth was based on the doctrine of monetary stability. The Greek economy had to move within a framework of stability, without inflation and public sector deficits, to increase its productivity and to seek capital for large investment projects. Wages would move upwards, but the rate of growth in wages and salaries would not exceed but fall slightly short of the rate of productivity growth in order to generate the necessary surplus for investment. The State would play an interventionist role, with a variety of instruments at its disposal. Having control over most of the banking system, it would regulate the flow of money through monetary and credit measures and would facilitate investment. It would seek out foreign investors and offer them favourable conditions, and in cases of reluctance it would itself set up key industries.
Although this work was not without merit, there were also negative aspects to the “Greek economic miracle”. The countryside was abandoned, although any process of modernisation would have led to the same result. But this process, condensed in a historically short period of time, was traumatic. Economically it had its positive side, with the boost to undocumented resources through migrant exchange, but at the same time it created increasing pressures on weak urban infrastructures and raised intense demands for redistribution of income and social services and education. A certain rigidity in the thinking of the Karamanlis governments, which avoided the de-escalation of military spending by clinging to the doctrine of danger from the north at a time when it seemed, especially since the early 1960s, to be waning, meant that the state did not have as many resources as it could spare to alleviate social pressures and at the same time stimulate domestic demand and thus the growth impulse. The policy of incentives for foreign capital was also criticised, as were contracts that were considered ”colonial” in the opposition discourse of the time. But these must be judged in their true dimensions, on the basis of the possibility of alternatives.
In its general framework, the Greek development strategy did not differ from the available possibilities of a capital-poor economy undertaking a socially complex modernisation process. Multinational enterprises with know-how and options were certainly able to secure favourable terms in their dealings with capital-seeking countries. Also, restrictive income policy is a necessary tool in a country seeking to accumulate capital that has no wealth to distribute. The welfare state of Western and Northern Europe, with which Western European social democracy has historically been identified, arises precisely as a result of long-term and high growth, a condition that did not exist in Greece in the 1950s. Finally, the policy of strengthening demand, although useful, was neither exhaustive nor the basic solution to the growth question, as Xenophon Zolotas, a key associate of Karamanlis as governor of the Bank of Greece, observed. What can be established, however, is that during the last two years of the eight-year period, Karamanlis and the economic staff overlooked the potential for a judicious use of redistributive instruments and policies to enhance economic growth through increased demand.
What became important was the strategic direction of the Greek economy thereafter and its ability to exploit the developmental foundation that had been laid in the 1953-1963 decade, whether it would acquire the sophistication and export dynamism that would mean the consolidation of Greece in the developed world.
During this period, Karamanlis continued to emphasise the need for continued growth, which necessitated the continuation of the policy of monetary stability, which precluded a broad redistributive policy. At the same time, he appeared to be opposed to the demand for political openness, as political and social mobilisation was, from his point of view, tantamount to the beginning of political and social destabilisation, which was a chronic problem of Greek politics.
Conflict with the palace
The friction between Karamanlis and the Crown began to develop in 1961. After the elections of that year, which were accused of “violence and fraud” and the beginning of the “relentless struggle” of the Centre Union, the attacks of the opposition parties against the palace came to a head, and the kings complained to the prime minister that he did not protect them as much as he should from these attacks, as well as from the attacks on the large dowry given to Princess Sophia. On the other hand, Karamanlis argued that the Crown ought, for its own sake, to avoid actions that would make it an object of controversy, either before Parliament or before the courts, with lawsuits filed against newspapers mainly for “insulting the honour of the royal family”.
Thus, the nervousness of the royal couple increased, since apart from the attacks of the opposition, there were also frequent frictions with Karamanlis. In a letter to King Pavlos, dated 3 October 1962, Karamanlis noted:
“There seems to be a misguided notion that pomp and circumstance enhances the throne. It is the opposite. “Simplicity and frugality consolidate the institution… The texts of royal speeches are not safe to be made without the knowledge of the government. The satisfaction of the needs of the Crown, when this involves expenditure of the public purse, should be avoided, unless it is strictly necessary. The lack of a political adviser of authority to inform the King and keep the Government in constant contact with the Crown is essential.
“Seven years ago I elected you as Prime Minister of the country, and my election and my confidence in you were fully justified. Unfortunately, in the course of time, there has been a growing campaign of slander, without the State finding any satisfactory way to protect the throne from slander. I felt this particularly when I read your letter, where you seem to adopt some of the arguments of the opposition, instead of suggesting ways and means of refuting them”.
Moreover, it should be noted that Karamanlis” intention was to revise the 1952 Constitution, which had been promoted only by the Centre governments and which was suffocating for the government elected by the people and particularly generous to the king, in a more democratic direction. Thus, in February 1963 he tabled a proposal for a constitutional revision aimed at strengthening the position of the government as the holder of executive power and simplifying the parliamentary process so that the legislative work of the government, which he considered crucial to the development process, could be advanced without obstruction. At the same time, Karamanlis had sought to limit the intrusive role of the crown in public life, a pursuit that put him on a collision course with the throne.On 20 April 1963, Queen Frederick and Princess Irene went unofficially to London to attend the wedding of Alexandra of Kent. On their arrival at the Claridge Hotel, hundreds of Greek and Cypriot demonstrators, led by the English wife of Antonis Abatiello, a Communist Party of Greece member and political prisoner, were waiting for them, demanding the release of the hundreds of political prisoners then in Greece. Frederick refused to receive Betty Abatiello, who wished to serve her with a memo on the matter, and the situation became more acute. In the afternoon of the same day, the protesters strongly disapproved of the Queen and the Princess. When they threw the only British policeman accompanying them to the ground, Frederick and her daughter ran into a dead-end alley and, in a panic, sought protection in a random house, even though they had not been attacked.
“As soon as I became aware of the episode”, Karamanlis recounts in his archive, “I recommended that we should avoid creating noise by avoiding it. Instead, the Queen herself brought the incident to the attention of the Greek press, the newspaper ”Mesimvrini”, and asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs to make an announcement on the one hand, and on the other hand to call the English Ambassador and protest against the incidents that had taken place against her in London. In addition to this, she also explained that she herself had been welcomed by the English Government and appeared on television to confront Abatiello. Finally, she suggested that a popular reception be organised on her return, which I prevented, in order to show the people”s indignation at the insult she had suffered. As a result of all this, such a noise was created about the incident that for weeks the English press and the English Parliament dealt with the matter in a manner derogatory to Greece”.
On April 26, 1963, Foreign Minister Evangelos Averoff made a strong appeal to British Embassy Counselor M.R. Barnes, which he made public the following day in a statement. The British Foreign Secretary Lord Hume even sent a letter to Frederick expressing his “sincere regret”, provoking the wrath of the British press. Obeserver called the existence of political prisoners in Greece a “scandal”, New Statesman called for “the kings of Greece not to be admitted to Britain unless democracy is restored to the country”, while Daley Herald called Hume”s letter “stupid”. On 2 May, at a meeting of the House of Commons, Labour MPs criticised Lord Hume for his letter to Queen Frederick. At the same time, party leader Harold Wilson called for an inquiry into the issue of political prisoners in Greece, while his party”s MPs proposed that the English Parliament debate the issue of granting amnesty to Greek political prisoners as a condition for the Greek royal visit to Britain. Both proposals were rejected by the majority, but the adverse international repercussions forced the Greek government to issue a statement the following day to apologise on the issue of political prisoners, stating, among other things, the following:
“There are no political prisoners in Greece. There are convicts for murder and armed participation in the communist gang struggle… These prisoners, rising to more than 3,000 in 1955, the year in which the present Prime Minister came to power, were reduced to 973 due to various leniency measures. In addition to these, there are 127 convicts of courts-martial for espionage…”.
On 10 May, while Pavlos was transferred to the “Evangelism” for an appendectomy, an acute incident occurred between Frederica and Karamanlis. The Queen insisted that the celebrations for the millennium of Mount Athos be postponed until Paul had recovered. Karamanlis sternly explained to her that these were matters for the government and not for her. Another conflict occurred again between the two when Frederick demanded that the building of the Government House in Thessaloniki be given to the royal family, on the grounds that “kings cannot associate with common mortals”. The Prime Minister then replied that “these are outdated notions”.On Saturday 8 June 1963, Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis visited the palace. The following month, Kings Paul and Frederick were due to go on an official visit to London, but Karamanlis was against it. He considered that the political circumstances forced the postponement of the visit, as apart from the above events, the recent murder of the MP of the Greek Democratic Party, Grigoris Lambrakis, had also intervened, which had created an extremely serious climate against the Greek government and the palace. With this in mind, Karamanlis went to the palace on 8 June to convince Paul that the postponement of the visit was politically necessary, as he recounts in his archives:
“I explained to the King the government”s view on the postponement of the trip, stressing that the postponement was necessary for two reasons. Firstly, because the incidents of April and the extent of the noise caused against the Crown, the Government and the country created a totally inappropriate climate for the visit. And secondly, because there was information that these things would be repeated, and in an organised manner, during the official visit of the kings. This fear, they said, is all the more justified since both the Labour party and part of the English press continue their attacks against Greece in view of the visit… Finally, I informed the King that the English government, although officially it seems to want the visit, when asked, declared that it could not give guarantees that the indecencies against the Crown and the country would not be repeated”.
Paul, however, was not convinced and so the Prime Minister went to the palace again on Monday, 10 June.
“I repeated to the King”, Karamanlis continues to recount, “that the issue is not personal and that the responsibility for the postponement will be assumed jointly by the two governments…I then explained to him that the issue of the trip, apart from being political, is already taking on a constitutional form with the disagreement that has been expressed. Finally, after having declared to the King that I would adhere to my proposal until I resigned, I appealed to him to agree to postpone the visit… Finally, the King was persuaded and discussed with me the explanations he would give to the Queen of England, so that he would not be considered as insulting her by postponing the visit”.
But when, on Tuesday, 11 June, Karamanlis went back to the Tatoi Palace to finalise with Pavlos the decision to postpone the controversial trip, he was in for a surprise. “The King, in obvious embarrassment, indicated to me that, having reconsidered the matter, he regretfully came to the decision not to adopt the government”s recommendation,” the then Prime Minister said in his archives, adding:
“I expressed my regret that the King had come to an unfortunate, in my opinion, decision and I urged him to accept my resignation”.
Subsequently, Karamanlis called for the dissolution of Parliament, the appointment of a strictly caretaker government and the immediate holding of elections by majority vote, but Pavlos had no such intention.
“Paul reserved to take a position on my suggestion and offered me the Great Cross of the Saviour, which even those who had been offered before had refused… I thanked the King and begged him not to insist because, as I told him in jest, a Grand Cross is usually offered as a consolation to deposed prime ministers, which was not the case in my case”.
And while Karamanlis came down from the palace and called an emergency meeting of the cabinet to announce the resignation of the government, in violation of the Constitution, King Pavlos issued a proclamation to the Greek people without first bringing its contents to the attention of the Prime Minister, as he was obliged to do under the Constitution, stressing, among other things:
“The resignation of the Government is due to a disagreement arising from my refusal to accept the recommendation of the President of the Government that I should not make the official visit to Great Britain scheduled for July 1, 1963. In view of my position, I believe that, in the present circumstances, the interests of the country require that this visit should take place… Postponement or cancellation of it serves the purposes of those who have the security of Greece at stake…”.
The news of Karamanlis” resignation dropped like a bombshell. The opposition press found itself in a dilemma, as due to its ideological positioning it could not openly criticise the palace.
“As soon as the first rumours that Karamanlis had resigned were published, public opinion was shaken and the awe of the void spread”, wrote the newspaper. “May God save Greece” was the title of the main article in Vradini, where, among other things, it was reported: “The supreme ruler has given otherwise. The Vradini, faithful to the principles it has served since its publication and which have inspired it throughout its long life, cannot express different views and make judgments and criticisms.
On the contrary, the opposition centrist press did not hesitate to celebrate the resignation of Karamanlis, regardless of the constitutionality or otherwise of the king”s actions. The article in Eleftheria is typical: “The country and the Crown were spared yesterday the deathless escapade of Karamanlis… Yesterday”s dismissal of the favourite is a principle of wisdom and hope”. The article in Vima is similar. It is only the collapse of a whole regime, a whole state of affairs, a whole policy.
Karamanlis felt that there was a conspiracy against him. “Much was checked at the time about the interference of the Queen and some of my associates, for which I cannot take responsibility”, he later noted in his file. He added, however, that after the cabinet meeting where he announced his decision to resign, “nervousness was expressed afterwards and Sp. Theotokis, who encouraged Mr Kanellopoulos and some MPs to react against my decisions.
On 16 June Karamanlis met with K. Hoydas, Paul”s alter ego, and stressed to him that “the thought of using members of the ERE confirms the rumours about the intention to split the ruling party”. The resigned prime minister pointed out to the key man at court that “according to his information, in the palace they are probably counting, wrongly of course, on the break-up of the majority”.
On 17 June Constantine Karamanlis met again with King Pavlos and lost all hope of bridging the gap, as he found that Pavlos was not going to call elections immediately. The king even moved towards a proportional electoral system, which was a precondition for the formation of a new government by the ERE after the elections. “It is obvious that these arguments were used to convince the inventors of the arguments of the intention to split the ERE, and the King of the desire to make concessions to the opposition.
Disappointed, he decided to leave Greece temporarily, departing on 18 June for Zurich, where he stayed until September, after having asked Paul to appoint Panagiotis Pipinelis as Prime Minister of the “caretaker” government, which would appear in Parliament for a vote of confidence. “The King did not seem satisfied with my proposal, and Mr. Hoidas, who had been summoned in the meantime, intervening in an inappropriate manner, declared Mr. Pippinelis unfit”, Karamanlis notes and continues: “It is obvious that the reactions against Mr Pipinelis were not due to his unsuitability, but to the fact that a solution had been prepared with other colleagues of mine, who, as I mentioned earlier, encouraged the King in his disagreement.”
Karamanlis was not wrong to suspect a conspiracy. After all, since the beginning of 1963 his relations with the palace had taken a very bad turn. As revealed by American documents that have come to light, on 31 January Queen Frederick met with the CIA station chief in Athens, Locke Campbell. During the latter”s report, Frederick complained to him that ”Karamanlis is a man of great ability and wholly loyal to the monarchy, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to work with him because he has very poor judgment”. Ever at Locke Campbell”s beck and call, Frederick argued that “perhaps the time has come for elections and a new government”, with either George Rallis or Spyros Theotokis as prime minister, and gave the CIA station chief the impression that “if faced with a critical situation, the royal couple would turn to the army in a last-ditch effort to save the institution of the monarchy”.
Karamanlis confirmed the danger of incidents in London during the royal trip, as there were bloody incidents and extensive clashes.
Meanwhile, even before these developments, conspiracies were being organised in the army with the aim of organising a military coup. According to a report by the American Ambassador in Athens, Harry Labouiz, to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, dated 15 April 1963, at the beginning of that month, the newly retired Chief of the Army General Staff, General Vasilios Kardamakis, informed the military attaché of the American Embassy in Athens, Colonel Boldry, that a group of officers were planning a coup d”état because they were concerned that the Centre-Left Union Front would win the next elections. General Kardamakis, who was absolutely convinced that the only solution was a coup, revealed to the American officer that key members of this group were Lieutenant Colonel Georgios Papadopoulos, the future dictator, Colonel Alexandros Hadjipetros and Brigadier General Odysseas Angelis. It was the first time that Papadopoulos” name was mentioned in an official American document, apart from the CIA documents, with which the future dictator had close relations, since he was working at the CPS at the time.
In this climate, the country was heading towards elections, while the Americans had begun to abandon Karamanlis and consider alternative scenarios, even before Karamanlis resigned. It is revealing that Labuise”s report to Rusk was responded to by Under Secretary of State Phillips Talbot, in charge of Middle East affairs and later Ambassador to Athens, who among other things pointed out: “It is obviously impossible for Karamanlis to remain in power indefinitely and we are ready to work with another government, as long as it comes out of constitutional procedures. We will have no hesitation in cooperating with a new government, as long as it does not include communists or their representatives.”
During his 11-year stay in Paris, Karamanlis remained out of active politics, although his contacts with various political actors were frequent and he was fully informed about political developments.
On 29 January 1965, a proposal of the EDA was discussed in Parliament for the referral of the former Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis and his ministers, Panagis Papaligouras, Aristides Protopapadakis and Nikolaos Marti, to a special court for the contract between PPC and Pessinet. Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou asked his deputies to vote according to their conscience. The vote took place in the early hours of 6 February. Andreas Papandreou, who had just returned from West Germany a few hours earlier, did not take part. Karamanlis, Papaliguras and Martis were impeached with 146, 147 and 144 votes respectively.
After the publication in 1965 of the book The Political Forces in Greece by the French political scientist Jean Mainot, which did not present the governance of the EPE in a flattering light, Karamanlis asked Savvas Konstantopoulos to write a political biography defending his work, which was completed and corrected by Karamanlis, but for unknown reasons was never published.
In 1966-1967 there was repeated discussion about the possibility of Karamanlis”s return to politics. One possibility that was discussed with an envoy of the crown was linked to the king”s commissioning of the formation of a government. The throne was looking for a way out of its involvement in a conflict with the leadership of the Centre Union, and giving the government to Karamanlis for a transitional phase until the conservative movement regained the initiative and could claim victory in the elections was one of the possibilities the crown was considering. For Karamanlis, his succession was intertwined with the undertaking of a major institutional change, which consisted in strengthening the executive along the lines of the proposals he had made in February 1963.
Apart from that, Karamanlis probably understood that the correlation of forces in the electorate, which would ultimately decide the fate of his political strategy, was not favourable and his response was ultimately negative. His answer was also negative to the possibility of leading a coalition of the ERE, Spyros Markezinis” Progressives and the defectors from the Centre Union. At the basis of the debate was the perception of EPE cadres that the leadership of his successor, Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, was weak and that the return of Karamanlis at the head of a somewhat broader group would increase his chances of prevailing over the Centre Union.
The military coup of 1967 changed the facts of Greek politics, but also gradually strengthened Karamanlis”s political prospects. He quickly came to the conclusion that the Colonels” group was aiming for a permanent military regime, and as early as November 1967 he would publicly express his opposition to the dictatorship. At the same time he worked out the strategy of a smooth exit from the military regime. The king as a symbol of constitutional legitimacy had a place in Karamanlis” statements of that period. Other key elements of his platform were the need for a new institutional arrangement of the democratic constitution to avoid what he considered a degeneration of the parliamentary system of the pre-dictatorship period. The need for a smooth exit from dictatorship as a precondition for the survival of the bourgeois regime, the prevention of uncontrolled movements that would test social cohesion and calm, dominated his political discourse, as did the concern, especially from 1973 onwards, when the European Community welcomed three new members, about the possibility of Greece”s being cut off from the European unification process, to which he attached strategic importance. An important element of his strategy was to bring the political world together to convince Washington, a necessary factor during the dictatorship, that there was a pro-Western alternative to the military regime.
“The most serious of all dangers, however, is the threatened definitive separation of Greece from Europe… But… there is the enormous moral question which the abolition of Freedom in our country poses; when we call upon the Greek peasants and workers to react against communism, we do not invoke the danger of losing their unsubstantial property, but the danger of losing their freedom. For if the criterion were material, many of them, called upon to make a choice of slavery, would perhaps prefer red to white tyranny, since that too offers peace and, in addition, relative justice. And the rulers should be careful not to create this dangerous psychology among the people… In these circumstances, I believe that the Government should reconsider its policy and do, albeit belatedly, what it should have done long ago. Call in the King, who is the symbol of legitimacy, and cede its position to an experienced and powerful Government. This Government, exercising for a certain period of time extraordinary powers, will create, far from passions and recriminations, the conditions which will allow democracy to function in Greece and the sovereign people to decide in time and freely on their future.
On 24 July 1974, after the fall of the dictatorial regime of the junta of the Colonels and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Constantine Karamanlis returned triumphantly to Greece, in the plane of the French Presidency made available to him by French President Valerie Giscard d”Estaing, a close personal friend of his. He became prime minister with great public support, mainly because he was seen as the most convenient solution for the then (conservative) military and economic elites. He immediately formed a government of national unity in order to deal immediately with the Cyprus crisis and to restore democratic institutions in Greece. The particular circumstances in which the post-independence period came about, the speed of the transfer of power from the military and the agreement of the bourgeois political world with Karamanlis, without social destabilisation and mass mobilisation, allowed him to implement his moderate strategy without the immediate pressure of radical alternatives, which he would seek to prevent before their possible manifestation and not to neutralise them afterwards.
Even more important historically was Karamanlis” decision to legalise the Communist Party of Greece in September 1974. His decision meant that the political system would function without the exclusions of the past and that the country”s political tendencies would be exclusively defined in the political field, as the legalisation of the KKE was accompanied by the abolition of administrative discrimination and authoritarian practices of the pre-dictatorship period, such as social certificates and deportations. Karamanlis” move also betrayed his own increased self-confidence, which was not always shared by the party he led, that the political success of the conservative party and its electoral prevalence was not linked to the use of the state apparatus at the expense of the other political forces or the extreme use of contested constitutional institutions, such as the crown, but that its ideological basis, its tradition and its governmental policy could form the exclusive basis of its political presence.
At the institutional level, the overwhelming parliamentary majority he secured allowed Karamanlis to move swiftly for the drafting and adoption of the new constitution, which was completed in June 1975, and in which the right to submit motions of no confidence was restricted, as he considered it a means of polarizing the political climate and obstructing the government”s work.
Karamanlis did not immediately abolish censorship and was initially lenient with the members of the 1967 coup who still held strong positions in the Security Authorities and the armed forces. However, most of the remnants of the colonels” regime, the so-called ”dregs”, were expelled from the state apparatus. He was the prime minister at important points in the democratisation process, in particular at the trial of the dictators (who were given the death penalty for high treason and sedition, which was eventually commuted to life imprisonment at his initiative, a decision he tried to defuse with the phrase “when we say life, we mean life”), the organisation of free parliamentary elections, the 1974 referendum on the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a parliamentary democracy, the drafting and adoption of the 1975 constitution and the accession of Greece to the European Economic Community (EEC).
In 1974, Karamanlis founded the New Democracy party with which he won the 1974 and 1977 national elections and served as prime minister until 1980. In the economic sector, growth continued, although not at the pace of the previous decades, and the first major nationalisations took place. In the foreign sector, Karamanlis made overtures to the Eastern Bloc countries and signed important agreements visiting a number of states. This policy can be seen in the context of the crisis in Greek-American relations, which resulted in Greece”s temporary withdrawal from the military arm of NATO (1974-1980); in 1980 he resigned after the signing of the treaty of Greece”s accession to the EEC. The real reason for his resignation, however, was his apparent defeat in the elections due to the rise of Andreas Papandreou. He was succeeded as prime minister by Georgios Rallis. It is noteworthy that during his political career, he had faced both Georgios Papandreou and his son, Andreas Papandreou, in electoral contests, and was later President of the Republic during the latter”s governments.
Karamanlis chose Konstantinos Tsatsos -as he was his most trusted advisor- for the post of President of the Republic as a proposal from New Democracy. As Tsatsos mentions in his memoirs, Karamanlis had set as a sole condition that in case he wanted to move earlier than the five years in the presidency of the republic, Tsatsos would resign. Tsatsos attributes Karamanlis” choice of him to the following reasons: he would keep his promise to resign from the presidency of the republic in case Karamanlis wanted to switch to it, as the two men had secretly agreed. He would not use his office to promote himself at the expense of Karamanlis; the convergence of views between them, such that it had never caused him any trouble; the prestige that Tsatsos had acquired during his term of office on the Constitution Committee and the good cooperation he had enjoyed with the opposition. Still his earlier positive ministerial work. In the vote held in Parliament, he received 210 votes out of a total of 295 votes cast. Of these 210 were most likely to belong to the New Democracy MPs who had 215 seats. The only opponent was Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, supported by the Centre Union, while PASOK and the United Left voted no. He was sworn in as President of the Republic on 19 July 1975.
During Karamanlis” second premiership, the international and domestic political, economic and social context, as well as Karamanlis himself, had clearly differentiated. During his second premiership he became the target of fierce criticism from all parties for his policy on Cyprus, which was considered outrageously regressive, and his own statements that “Cyprus is far away” contributed to this. He was also accused of scandalously using the state media (ERT) for self-promotion. Other failures of the period 1974-1980 were the scandal of the leak of the subjects of the national examinations in June 1979, with Karamanlis not accepting the resignation of the Minister of Education, Ioannis Varvitsiotis, the devastating fires in Parnitha in 1977 with 5. 000 hectares of forest burned, the abolition of the Perama railway, which was the last railway system in Greece until the reopening of the tramway in 2004, under the government of Kostas Karamanlis” nephew, and the inability (or indifference) of Karamanlis and the Minister of Public Order, retired General Anastasios Balkos, to expel Hun officers from the City Police and the Gendarmerie.
The Greek parliament elected Karamanlis President of the Republic in mid-1980, a position he held until 1985. He resigned prematurely, a few months before the end of his term, when then Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou announced that his party would not support his re-election, but would nominate Christos Sarzetakis as the new President of the Republic. Karamanlis then criticized Papandreou”s stance, but the government banned his statement from being broadcast on state television. In 1989, in the midst of the political crisis the country was going through, he said the famous phrase: ”the country has been transformed into a vast lunatic asylum”. In 1990 he was re-elected President by the governing majority of the New Democracy party led by Konstantinos Mitsotakis and served until 1995, when he was succeeded in the Presidency by Kostis Stephanopoulos.
Karamanlis retired from politics in 1995, at the age of 88, having won 5 parliamentary elections and having served 8 years as a minister, 14 years as Prime Minister, 10 years as President of the Republic, and a total of more than 60 years in active politics. For his long service to democracy and European unity, he was awarded the prestigious Charlemagne Prize in 1978. He died after a short illness in 1998, at the age of 91. His archives are kept at the Konstantinos Karamanlis Foundation. In 2007, in a major survey by the centre-right newspaper Kathimerini on how Greeks assessed the post-war period after 33 years, Konstantinos Karamanlis and his governments came second, while Andreas Papandreou and his governments came first.
Karamanlis came from the anti-Venizelist faction that expressed the conservative current of Greek society. However, by the time he assumed the leadership role in October 1955, traditional anti-Venizelism had already undergone substantial changes and had evolved into a new conservative faction, the one most commonly known as the right wing of Greek politics. Already in 1945 Karamanlis, a young politician with no particular leadership claims at the time, was deeply concerned about what he saw as the inability of his party, and of the political system as a whole, to produce a political strategy adapted to the circumstances of the post-war world, and particularly of Greece, which was plagued by a rigid polarization between the left and the bourgeois political forces.
“Our leadership has lost its sense of duty to such an extent that it is considered dangerous for the future of the country, while our people, a people that has always dealt with its political problems with morbid sentimentality, is already suffering from psychoses. I am sure that neither the Right nor the Left – what a misunderstanding in our country and in these terms – would want to be where they are if they could rationally define their position… A lot of people think that winning the elections and the referendum saves their case. But this is not entirely true. Because it is not enough to win the election. We have to win them in such a way that we are able to face the post-election period, which will be perhaps more difficult than today.
Karamanlis understood that the December events had benefited the People”s Party politically, but he wondered: “But when the impression of the Decembristas has faded and our national crisis has ended, what will be the thing that will connect us with the popular soul?”
The coup of 21 April 1967 and the seven-year dictatorship completely changed the framework and emphasis of Karamanlis” political discourse, and the conservative party moved away from nationalism and anti-communism and focused on the economic and social development of the country in the European framework.
The conservative party led by Karamanlis was interventionist. A strong and effective state was central to Karamanlis” political discourse and was a tool for achieving economic growth. The development deficit also resulted from the scarcity of natural resources, but according to Karamanlis the main problem was political instability, a consequence of a factional political culture, an intermediate tendency towards fragmentation.
The Karamanlis government intervened and nationalized enterprises that were already owned by private capital. The government practice was articulated and summarized in a political speech by Karamanlis at the first congress of New Democracy, in Halkidiki, in May 1979. New Democracy, he stressed, transcended traditional right-centre-left distinctions.
Karamanlis” attempt to discolour New Democracy from identification with the right is noteworthy, though unsuccessful. Apart from the tactical element, the attempt to relativize the traditional classification of political forces on the right-left axis reflected Karamanlis” own political conception of ideologies and parties in the 1970s.
Karamanlis was more empirically oriented than ideologically and dogmatically oriented. He understood that in the context of the political structure of the democracies of Western Europe after World War II, the right-left distinction, while not non-existent, did not have the intensity of the pre-war era. In terms of performances and political appointments, Karamanlis belonged to a generation of conservative politicians who tended to be replaced by another, the most prominent cases being those of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, who marked a more general shift in the conservative and liberal space, more oriented towards the market economy, in response to the crisis of the 1970s.
In Greek circumstances, it seems that Karamanlis believed that the post-independence and the establishment of a new democratic system, free from the restrictions of the post-civil war period, meant that the rigid distinctions between political forces would be eroded. In reality, this would not have happened in the conditions of the radicalisation of Greek politics under PASOK, as the political stigma of Karamanlis would have been subjected to the pressure of the new era. Finally, as was readily apparent to contemporary observers of the time, Karamanlis was a reluctant party leader after 1974. Due to the circumstances of the post-independence period and his dominant personal role, he tended to distance himself from the party struggle and attempt to acquire a trans-party status, although he did not fail to imbue New Democracy with certain fundamental organisational characteristics, mainly aimed at a coordinated process of succession.
Consequently, Karamanlis was aiming at his elevation to a national personality above parties. This did not happen, as the opposition”s refusal to support him during the presidential elections when he was elected president of the Republic, in 1980 and 1990, and in 1985, when his expected nomination by PASOK was de facto denied. The centre-left saw in him the historical leader and symbol of the right. Something similar was happening with the traditional centre. Karamanlis”s relationship with the historical Venizelist party was ambivalent. The centre initially saw in him a politician with a historical anti-Venizelist stigma. He was looking forward to overcoming the historic anti-Venizelist-Venizelist split, which had anyway faded in 1955, when Karamanlis formed his first government. At the same time, he avoided cooperation with parties and groups of the centrist area, as he saw in them the danger of destabilising his governments by a strong factional element that had been prominent in the centrist area during the 1950s. However, Karamanlis did not shy away from the individual cooperation of centrist cadres who could bring to his party and his governments administrative and political skills that were not always in abundance in his own political sphere. Prominent associates such as Evangelos Averoff, Konstantinos Tsatsos, Gregorios Kasimatis and later Ioannis Butos were such cases. After the post-independence Karamanlis would have preferred the opposition to the Democratic Centre Union, but its defeat in the 1977 elections pushed him into the project of enlargement, as PASOK had now prevailed as the official opposition. The venture paid off at the cadre level and his election as President of the Republic in 1980 was made possible, and New Democracy was strengthened as a party and as a government by the presence of Konstantinos Mitsotakis and Panagiotis Kanellopoulos.
In July 1951 Karamanlis married Amalia Kanellopoulou (later Megapanou), niece of the politician and academic Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, whom he divorced in 1972 when he was in self-exile in Paris. She had no children. He maintained friendly relations with a wide circle of people, including artists such as Dimitris Horn and Manos Hadjidakis.
His nephew, Kostas Karamanlis, was president of New Democracy from 1997 to 2009 and prime minister from 2004 to 2009.
He was an avid golfer and a patron of the “Glyfada Golf Club” where today the facility is named in his honour.