In the years of the 3rd Greek Democracy
Greek citizens live today in what we call the “3rd Greek Democracy”. It’s actually the governance period after the dictatorship that ended in 1974 until today, and historically we separate it from the period of military dictatorship (1967-1974).
Although the terms First and Second Greek Republic is not in widespread use, the term “Third Greek Democracy” is established as a term. All those three Greek political periods relate to the modern age. The 1st Democracy was from 1821 (Greek revolution against the Ottoman Turks) until 1832 when King Otto was selected to rule Greece. Then, the second period was between 1924 and 1935, for almost 10 years when monarchy was overthrown.
Actually democracy was born and developed in Athens during the classical ancient era, but only the three periods of the modern era are considered when we talk about democracy in Greece since democracy during ancient times worked very differently from what we are used to now.
The new political environment
Since I was born in 1978 in Athens, the capital of Greece, I’ve lived almost all the period of the 3rd Greek Democracy. During these almost 40 years many changes have been made both politically and socially. The country was struggling to get to its feet after world war 2, and many decades were needed for people to gain back their old living standards and progress even more. Things had started to change rapidly during the 60’s but the military coup and dictatorship took things a few steps back, but the growth was too strong to be held back. The 70’s was rather a “recovering” decade and the 80’s were actually the peak of this progress, that many years later proved that it would “backfire”, because many things were not done right as they should have, but also people, and mainly politicians didn’t care much about the consequences that were not really evident to many at that time.
The years of progress
I consider myself fortunate due to the fact that my years as a child were during the 80’s. Greece had recovered from the war at that time, was already part of the E.U. which was still at an early form, and was rapidly changing, having reached the level of most West European countries. It was quite a period. There were plenty of jobs available, people started working and saving money, they got loans and built of bought houses. My parents were both working and at least 3 times in 15 years we moved to a better and larger house, which we were still renting. I don’t feel that my sister and I really were deprived of something really important. We were not a rich family but our life standards were constantly improving, we had the chance to get educated to a high level and at least I was able to get a good job. My sister was not really that fortunate to get a good job because she is younger than me and started looking for a job just after the economic crisis of 2009 started.
Democracy and politics in modern Greece
Although things before 1974 were more like a mess politically in Greece, with monarchy being installed and overthrown in multiple cases, with political tension and short-living governments and dictatorships, the political environment went very stable afterwards.
I would say that we reached the other edge now, became things became rather too stable from that point on and for the next 30 years. Just two political parties dominated the political scene and all other parties were just participating with very low percentages.
The positive thing about this situation was that the political environment was as I said rather stable and governments were strong and had all the time they needed to make reforms. The bad thing on the other hand is that they made many mistakes, they hid and altered economic data, they mismanaged the country as it proved out later and all these led to an unprecedented economic crisis we have been experiencing during the last 6-7 years in Greece.
The present Greece politically
The economic crisis led to a big change. The socialist and liberal parties and especially the first one that was leading the country more years, lost most of their power, whereas new political powers strengthened their power. Numerous political parties have made their appearance since many politicians left the old parties and then they mostly just disappeared. Far left and right parties have appeared and actually some of them established their presence in the political scene. In other words, I would have to say that things are as complex as they have never been in the last decades.
This situation does not seem like it could change soon, since the economic crisis is becoming deeper and deeper, people in Greece become more desperate and angry and the political system is unable to cope with it, since of course all governments no longer can materialize their own programs. They just follow what is decided and asked by the E.U. and the I.M.F., although the measures taken just worsen things more.
How about the future of the country?
I am really very worried about the future of my country. Young people leave Greece because they cannot find a decent job, there are cuts on salaries and pensions on a constant basis and many people cannot afford even the basics. I can see that this has cause social and political tension and the political system has become very unstable. I very much doubt if there’s going to be a strong government after next elections or if we will have to follow the road of multiple elections and different governments every couple of months. Present leading political parties and leaders do not seem capable and willing to cooperate and problems remain unsolved. A radical change is rather eminent I believe. Will it be a bankruptcy of the country or maybe a debt relief? Are political forces in Greece going to cooperate for the good of the country or is it maybe possible to see radical political events and changes, like the military coup attempt on neighboring Turkey? I say let’s just hope for the best…