- Prime Minister of Greece
The Prime Minister of Greece ( _el. Πρωθυπουργός της Ελλάδος) is the
head of governmentof the Hellenic Republicand the leader of the Greek cabinet. The current Prime Minister is Kostas Karamanlis, leader of the New Democracy party. The Prime Minister's official office (but not residence) is the Maximou Palacein the centre of Athens.
Election and appointment of the Prime Minister
The Prime Minister is officially appointed by the
President of Greece. According to the Greek Constitution, the President shall appoint the leader of the political party with the majority of the votes in the Parliament as Prime Minister. If there is no party with a majority, the leader of the largest party is asked to attempt to form a government. Therefore, the election of members of a certain party to parliament is the equivalent to a vote for that party's leader for Prime Minister. [ [http://www.hri.org/docs/syntagma/artcl50.html#A37| Article 37, Constitution of Greece] ]
History of the office
During the Revolution (1821-1832)
Greek War of Independence, different regions of Greece that were free of Ottoman control began establishing democratic systems for self-government, such as the Peloponnesian Senate. Meanwhile, a series of over-arching National Assemblies, such as the First National Assembly at Epidaurus, met from time-to-time to provide overall coordination. The First Assembly elected a 5-member executive council, which was headed by Alexandros Mavrokordatos. The Executive continued to govern Greece until 1828, when the first true national government was formed, under the direction of Ioannis Kapodistrias, who as "Governor of Greece" was head of the state and the government. [Brewer, David. "The Greek War of Independence". (Overlook Press, 2001).] Kapodistrias was eventually assassinated in 1831 and his government, presided over by his brother Augustinos, collapsed the following year. It was replaced by a series of collective governmental councils, which lasted until 1833, when Greece became a monarchy.
Under Otto's absolute monarchy (1832-1843)
In 1832, Greece's nascent experiment with democracy was ended and a monarchy was established with the underage
Bavarian Prince Otto as king. Initially the government was led by a regency council made up of Bavarians. The president of this council, Count Josef Ludwig von Armanspergwas the "de facto" head of government under Otto. Later Otto dismissed his Bavarian advisers and wielded power as an absolute monarch, effectively as head of stateand his own head of government. [ Petropulos, John A., "Politics and Statecraft in the Kingdom of Greece". (Princeton University Press, 1968)]
Constitutional monarchy (1843-1910)
King Otto's reign as an absolute monarch came to an end when agitators for a
constitution(as had been promised when the monarchy was established) rose up in the September 3rd Revolution in 1843. Otto was forced to grant a constitution and Andreas Metaxastook power; he is credited with being the first Greek to formally serve as "Prime Minister." [Clogg, Richard. "A Short History of Modern Greece". (Cambridge University Press, 1979). ISBN 0-521-32837-3]
Once the Office of Prime Minister was established, the responsibility for self-government again fell to the Greek people. However, two factors maintained significant power for the crown: the Greek party structure was weak and client-based and the monarch was free to select any member of parliament to form a government. [ Petropulos, John A., "Politics and Statecraft in the Kingdom of Greece". (Princeton University Press, 1968)]
In 1862, Otto was finally deposed and the Greek people chose a new monarch in the person of King
George I of Greece. In the next 15 years, the party structures began to evolve into more modern ideological parties with the Nationalist Party led by Alexandros Koumoundouroson the right and the more liberal New Party led by Charilaos Trikoupis. Trikoupis was successful after the election of 1874 in forcing the king to accept the "dedilomeni principle" ( _el. αρχή της δεδηλωμένης)--that the leader of the majority in parliament must be selected as prime minister by the king. [Clogg, Richard. "A Short History of Modern Greece". (Cambridge University Press, 1979). ISBN 0-521-32837-3] The Nationalists were later lead by Theodoros Deligianniswho famously said "was against everything Trikoupis was for." This two-party system existed until 1910, even as Georgios Theotokistook over the New Party after the death of Trikoupis in 1895 and the assassination of Deligiannis in 1905 which led to a splintering of parties on the conservative and nationalist side.
Upheaval, revolts and war (1910-1946)
In 1910, military officers sparked the fall of civilian government when they issued the
Goudi Pronunciamento. This event led to the arrival in Greece of the Cretan politician Eleftherios Venizelos. His followers gathered in the Liberal Party, which, despite Venizelos' dominant status, constituted the first true party in the modern sense, in that it was formed around a progressive, liberal and pro-republican political agenda. It was eventually opposed by the more conservative and pro-royalist People's Party, initially led by Dimitrios Gounaris. The antagonism between the two parties, and the supporters of monarchy and republicanism, would dominate the political landscape until after the Second World War.
List of Prime Ministers of Greece
* [http://www.primeminister.gr/ Official site of the Greek Prime Minister]
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