Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

Political Change in Greece: An Analysis of Future Prospects

Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

Political Change in Greece: An Analysis of Future Prospects

Article excerpt

The Main Achievement of the Political Change of 1974

There is a vast literature about the 'political change' (metapolitefsi) in Greece after 1974 and the restoration of democracy, but a few are wondering about its main characteristics. This paper tries to define this political change as the transition from a long period of entrenched parliamentarism, which resulted in a brutal dictatorship, to a modern constitutional democracy. In other words, it is the obvious transition to the European system of guaranteed rights and freedoms and of a structured charter of obligations. Actually, it is the transition from 'Balkan provincialism' to a modern but limited Europeanization. In philosophical terms, it can be called the transition from the regime's obscurantism, from arbitrary insolence of power and uncontrolled state authoritarianism, to a free evolutionary period.

Besides the political freedom and the introduction of the concepts of popular power and the welfare state in politics, this regime change was associated with the rapid expansion of social prosperity and unbridled consumerism. Relatively, Kondylis1 refers to the prevalence of a parasitic consumerism "indifferent to the long-term national implications, especially with regard to the country's independence and national decision autonomy". Kondylis uses the term 'parasitic consumerism' to characterize the weakness of Greece "to produce everything that it consumes without having sufficient restraint-and dignity-so as not to consume more than can produce, and in order to consume it parasitizes in two directions: internally, by mortgaging the future resources, turning them into current repayments, and externally, by borrowing large amounts of money not for future-fruitful- investments, but in order to pay these vast quantities of consumed products, which were mainly imported."2 This position, as reasonable as it may seem, is actually simplistic as long as it ignores a whole range of material needs which had to be covered after the restoration of democracy. Among others, after the political change in Greece social inequality and poverty were drastically reduced as well as the total welfare of the society was significantly increased.3 This development was necessary not only as a way to establish decent living conditions for the population but also as part of the convergence procedure with the rest of the European Union. Significantly, despite the huge reduction of inequality and poverty that occurred after political change, Greece continues to encounter higher inequality and poverty levels and lower social justice levels than most of the European Union countries.4 Moreover, the new regime marked rapid changes in the political field. In any case, the democratization of the country is related to the period of 'change' from 19815 onwards in the sense the 'change' of the 1980s delivered a strong societal need: to overcome the hegemony which was established in the foundations of anti-communism domination. The negative effects of the 'change' are well-known; we tend to ignore though the consequences of a possible 'non-change'.6

The fact is that the new regime as well as previous phases of Greek political history, integrated and generated varying structural 'Greek pathologies' which derive their origin from the Turkish occupation. Despite this, however, the social, political and economic achievements of this period contributed to the adjustment of the country to modern international and European standards after a long phase of obscurantism and authoritarianism. Even if someone can criticize the new regime, no one should deny the positive aspects. Such positive aspects of the new regime with which the country should be reconnected, is the establishment of the National Health System, the introduction of labor and family law, the process of democratization of public institutions and of the army, the introduction of the transparent procedures for hiring in the public sector (ASEP) and of Citizens' Service Centers (KEP), the establishment of welfare institutions, the creation of modern infrastructure but with disproportionate costs, the computerization of the public services, a fair redistribution of income and opportunities, regional convergence, decentralization and investment in education and innovation. …

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