Greece Background of the KKE
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
Formed in 1918 with strong support from the Bolshevik Party in Moscow, the communist party never gained more than a small minority in elections, but its presence often had a profound impact on government policies and the policies of the West toward Greece.
Background of the KKE
Formerly called the Socialist Workers' Party, the Communist Party of Greece (Kommunistikon Komma Ellados--KKE) had strong ties with Moscow from its inception, and it was a loyal member of the Communist International (Comintern). Most of its support came from refugees from Turkey and linguistic and ethnic minorities. In the interwar period, the KKE participated in elections, but it polled only 9 percent of the vote at but in 1935. Nevertheless, that vote was a major influence in the imposition of an anticommunist military dictatorship under Ioannis Metaxas in 1936; from then until 1974, the KKE was outlawed.
Between 1940 and 1944, the KKE formed the backbone for Greece's wartime resistance movement, a role that for the first time made it a popular party (see Resistance, Exiles, and Collaborators , ch. 1). During the war, an estimated 25 to 30 percent of the population was associated with one or another of the KKE's auxiliary organizations; however, the period of the Civil War (1946-49) cost it most of its popular support. The party leaders and much of the party membership fled to Eastern Europe; those that remained in Greece operated through surrogate parties: first the Democratic Front, then the United Democratic Left (Eniea Dimokratiki Aristera- -EDA), which was disbanded by the military junta in 1967. In 1974 the civilian government of Karamanlis legalized the KKE after the ouster of the junta.
In 1968 the KKE split into two separate wings. The origin of the split lay in the 1950s and early 1960s, when the EDA served as the forum for communist activity within Greece. Over time a gap developed between communists who had remained in Greece and those who had fled abroad, and in 1968 this gap was the ground for the formation of the KKE-Interior and the KKE-Exterior. The fundamental difference between the branches was that in the 1970s the KKEExterior , the larger faction, retained its leadership and loyalty to Moscow while the breakaway KKE-Interior was following the independent Eurocommunist parties of Western Europe as its models. The schism was formalized with the restoration of democracy and the legalization of the KKE-Interior in 1974.
Since that time, the two parties have grown completely apart as they developed different ideologies, internal structures, and constituencies. Tactically, however, their relationship has been more complicated. The two have formed electoral coalitions--first in the national election of 1974, then in the elections of 1989 and 1990 under the name Synaspismos (coalition). Following the disastrous results of the 1990 elections, the parties embarked on completely divergent paths, seemingly heralding a final break. Together with several allied leftist groups, the KKE-Interior retained the name Synaspismos. Therefore, the KKE-Exterior is now referred to simply as the KKE.
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 Background of the KKE information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Greece Background of the KKE should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.