Greece in the 21st Century

In the months following the 2004 Olympics held in Athens, Greece grew a strong social malaise, determined by an increase in unemployment and inflation. The conservative government of Nea demokratia (ND, New Democracy), led by Kostas Karamanlis, found itself in great difficulty also due to the accusations of not having been able to manage the emergency caused by a series of serious forest fires that exploded in the summer of 2007 and for some financial scandals that had involved its representatives. Karamanlis therefore decided to hold early elections to obtain a new popular mandate. In the consultations of September 2007, ND obtained a measure success with 41.8% of the votes (152 seats) against 38.1% (102 seats) of the rivals of the Panellinion sosialistikon kinima.

Despite having only two majority votes in parliament, the government managed to pass a controversial pension reform in March 2008, which sparked strong protests. At the end of the year, social discontent grew and the government seemed incapable of managing an increasingly tense internal situation and the effects in the meantime caused by the international economic crisis. Karamanlis then decided to bring the vote forward again. The elections of October 2009 saw the success of PASOK, which obtained 43.9% of the votes (160 seats), while ND obtained only 33.5% (91 seats). The new Prime Minister Papandreou immediately had to face a dramatic economic situation. Greece’s debts were higher than assumed and at the end of the year the prime minister admitted that the country was close to bankruptcy. euro, area). The Greek government attempted to address the situation by announcing a series of austerity measures which, however, proved insufficient. In the spring of 2010, the Eurozone countries, fearing the spread of the crisis, approved a package of aid to Greece for 110 billion euros. The Greek government, in turn, implemented severe austerity measures that caused severe discontent in the country.

However, in October 2011, eurozone leaders asked for further economic measures, the application of which would be monitored by representatives of the so-called troika (European Commission, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund). Papandreou, increasingly in trouble, resigned in November 2011. He was succeeded by former Vice President of the European Central Bank (ECB) Loukas Papademos, head of a government of national unity supported by ND, PASOK and Laikós Orthódoxos Synagermós (LAOS, Raggruppamento popular Orthodox). The new government approved further public spending cuts and debt relief measures, after which LAOS decided to leave the government. Despite the efforts made, the situation remained critical and the eurozone countries decided to launch,

In May 2012, new elections were held. ND established itself as the first party, in front of the Synaspismós rizospastikís aristerás (SYRIZA, grouping of the radical left) led by Alexis Tsipras, who obtained 16.8% of the votes. An important success was that of the neo-Nazi party Chrisi avghy (Golden Dawn), with 7% of the votes.

The new Parliament, however, was unable to express a majority and in June the vote returned. ND obtained 29.7% (129 seats), SYRIZA 26.9% (71 seats), PASOK 12.3% (33 seats). Antonis Samaras, leader of ND since 2009, became prime minister at the helm of an executive supported by ND, PASOK and Dimokratikì aristerà (DIMAR, Democratic Left), who left the government following the closure of the public TV ERT in June 2013.

The Samaras government, under the tight control of the troika, passed further austerity measures in late 2013, which provoked strong social protests. In the European elections of May 2014 SYRIZA, strongly critical of the measures adopted by the government, established itself as the first party obtaining 26.6% of the votes, followed by Nea demokratia with 22.7%. Following the failure to elect the new President of the Republic in December 2014, the Parliament was dissolved. The subsequent elections, held on 25 January 2015, saw the affirmation of SYRIZA with 36.34% of the votes (149 seats), ahead of ND with 27.81% (76 seats) and Golden Dawn 6.28% (17 seats). Not being able to count, for a single time, on an autonomous majority, Tsipras decided to ally himself with the right-wing party of the Anexàrtiti èllines.

The new government immediately committed to an end to the austerity policies and a restructuring of the Greek debt, however meeting strong opposition from the credit institutions, with which it began a long and complex negotiation on the reform plan to be undertaken. in order to avoid the default of Greece and its exit from the euro. At the end of June 2015, the Greek government decided to hold a referendum to ask its citizens to express themselves on the matter. On 5 July 2015, in a very tense social climate, with banks closed due to lack of liquidity, the referendum saw a clear victory of the ‘no’ (61.3%) supported by the government. The result of the popular consultation, and the crisis of confidence in Prime Minister Tsipras on the part of many Eurozone partners, however, brought the country ever closer to exiting the euro. The deteriorated economic and social situation of Greece, despite the victory of the ‘no’, forced the government, at the end of a long Euro summit (12 and 13 July 2015), to submit a reform plan for approval by its Parliament, aimed at the possibility of accessing a new aid program by credit institutions, including around 35 billion in investments for growth and job creation. The program was approved by the Greek Parliament on the night between 15 and 16 July 2015, with 229 votes in favor, 64 against and 6 abstentions, thanks to the decisive contribution of the main opposition parties, given that 32 SYRYZA deputies voted against and between they also some members of the executive. After the technical agreement reached with creditors at the beginning of August and the approval of an aid plan worth 86 billion over 3 years, due to the now irreversible fracture within SIRYZA, Tsipras resigned on August 20 from premier, asking President Pavlopoulos for new elections. The consultations of September 20 saw a new affirmation by SIRYZA, which won 35.5% of the votes and 145 seats, while ND stopped at 28.1%, winning 75 seats. Tsipras, confirmed prime minister, re-proposed the government alliance with ANEL.

Greece in the 21st Century

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