Greece New Democracy
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
New Democracy (Nea Demokratia--ND) is the other major pole around which postjunta Greek politics has evolved. ND was founded in 1974 by Konstantinos Karamanlis. It was largely a revival of his National Radical Union (Ethniki Rizopastiti Enosis--ERE), which had dominated Greek politics from 1955 to 1963. ND won large parliamentary majorities in both 1974 and 1977, and Karamanlis had remained prime minister until his election to the presidency in 1980. He was succeeded as the party's head and prime minister by Georgios Rallis, a long-time associate and a moderate. After ND was defeated badly in the 1981 general election, the party replaced Rallis with the more conservative Evangelos Averoff-Tositsas, another long-time Karamanlis loyalist. But in 1984 Averoff resigned his position after a poor party showing in that year's election to the European Parliament. He was replaced by Konstantinos Mitsotakis, a moderate conservative and the long-time political arch-rival of Andreas Papandreou. Mitsotakis had joined the ND only six years earlier after playing important roles in various centrist parties.
In 1965 the defection of Mitsotakis and other senior ministers from Georgios Papandreou's Center Union government had caused a furor and was partly responsible for setting off a sequence of events that led to the colonels' coup and the imposition of military rule in 1967. Since that time, Georgios Papandreou's son Andreas has vilified Mitsotakis for his act of "treason", and Mitsotakis has never enjoyed personal popularity in Greek politics. However, in 1984 the ND saw Mitsotakis as the only politician who could rival Andreas Papandreou in terms of personality, toughness, and political adroitness.
Mitsotakis remained ND leader until immediately after the October 1993 elections, when he stepped down following the party's defeat. During his nine years as party chief, he controlled ND by promoting personal supporters to key party positions. This preoccupation with personal allegiance, which sometimes made Mitsotakis dependent on friends and associates with dubious qualifications, generated strong resentment among party loyalists. These forces gradually coalesced around Miltiadis Evert, the scion of a well-known Athenian family and a long-time party stalwart. In the early 1990s, the relationship between Mitsotakis and Evert grew increasingly cool and occasionally deteriorated to open hostility.
Evert voiced strong opposition to some of the bolder liberalization steps adopted by Mitsotakis's economic "tsar", Stefanos Manos, arguing in particular for the preservation of the "safety net" that protects Greek workers and employees from economic displacement. An open break nearly occurred when Manos attempted to privatize the OTE during the summer of 1993, and Evert threatened to bring down the government unless the privatization plan were halted. Although Evert won his point, the ND's one-vote majority collapsed shortly thereafter.
During the ensuing electoral campaign, the ND's internal divisions remained obvious to the nation. Under growing pressure from within the party, Mitsotakis promised to step down if the ND were defeated. In November 1994 Evert was overwhelmingly elected the new leader of the ND.
Evert became the first member of the post-Civil War generation to lead one of the two major Greek parties. At the same time, the leadership of the conservative movement in Greece reverted to favoring greater state control of economic resources. Evert's ascendancy also ended the polarizing and vituperative personal rivalry of Papandreou and Mitsokakis, which had occupied center stage for the previous ten years. Evert was fifty-four--young by Greek political standards--when he became the leader of ND. He had risen through the party ranks from the youth organization of the ERE to hold several ministerial positions and the mayoralty of Athens. He enjoys a reputation for personal integrity and for decisiveness, a quality implied by his nickname, Bulldozer, which also alludes to his considerable physical size.
Evert's first ten months leading ND were not easy. He attempted simultaneously to restore party unity, take control of the party's apparatus, and signal a new style of leadership. Toward the first objective, he immediately appointed Ioannis Varvitsiotis, his main opponent in the contest for the party leadership in November 1993, as party vice president. Then, in the summer of 1994, Evert created a party political council as a top-level policy-making committee, to which he appointed the most prominent ND parliamentary delegates, including Manos and Andreas Andrianopoulos, two of his most vocal critics in the party. To gain party control, he replaced many Mitsotakis appointees in the ND headquarters, and he used the April 1994 party congress to consolidate his leadership position.
To convey a sense of change and renewal to voters, Evert also tried to distance the ND from Mitsotakis personally. Evert was noticeably slow in defending his predecessor against charges of corruption and wiretapping before parliamentary committees and judicial authorities, angering the many Mitsotakis loyalists within the party. In mid-1994, the Evert and Mitsotakis factions also struggled for control of the ND's influential youth organization.
The June 1994 elections for the European Parliament were a setback for Evert. Although PASOK's share of the vote fell to 38 percent from its 47 percent share in the October 1993 national elections, ND was not the beneficiary. On the contrary, ND lost nearly 7 percent, achieving its lowest share in a national vote in its twenty-year history. The Mitsotakis faction, which had taken little part in the campaign, nevertheless blamed Evert for the party's poor showing.
ND's most notable organizational success has been the Youth Organization of the New Democracy (Organisia Neon tis Neas Demokratias--ONNED), a vigorous and often fractious youth group that has been instrumental in recruiting new blood into the party, mobilizing public support, and occasionally challenging the constituent influence of powerful local politicians. The party has fared well in university student elections in the 1990s, as well as in organizing support in labor unions and professional associations.
Since the mid-1980s, the main ideological struggle within the ND has been between moderate reformists and neoliberals and freemarket advocates who have called for a vigorous reversal of state intervention in the economy, accelerating privatization, and encouraging innovation and competition. The centrist domination has been evident in the party's conciliation toward the left in its consistent support of progressive social legislation. Experts believe, however, that a large part of the ND's grassroots supporters are to the right of the party's leadership in this respect.
Data as of December 1994
NOTE: The information regarding Greece on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Greece New Democracy information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Greece New Democracy should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.