New Democracy, a center-right political party in Greece, has traditionally advocated for pro-market and pro-business policies. During its government, it aimed to attract foreign investment, reduce taxes, and implement structural reforms to boost economic growth and reduce unemployment. The party emphasized fiscal responsibility and committed to meeting Greece’s obligations under the European Union’s stability and growth pact.
It aimed to reduce the budget deficit and public debt. New Democracy has taken a tough stance on immigration and border security, supporting stricter immigration controls and measures to address the refugee crisis. The party has also focused on improving education and healthcare services in Greece, advocating for stricter law and order policies, including tougher sentencing for criminals and greater police support.
Greece, with a history of democracy dating back to ancient times, is undergoing democratic restoration to preserve and strengthen its institutions. The country is addressing political and economic challenges, such as the debt crisis and austerity measures, by ensuring transparency and fairness in democratic processes like elections. To restore trust, Greece is combating corruption and increasing government transparency. Economic challenges include stimulating growth, reducing unemployment, and alleviating the effects of austerity measures. Building a robust civil society, encouraging citizen participation, protecting freedom of speech, and promoting open dialogue are essential elements of this process.
The Republic of Greece has a unique local self-government system, consisting of 325 municipalities and 13 regions. Local officials serve a four-year term, with the current administration primarily led by mayors affiliated with New Democracy, a member of the European People’s Party (EPP). Kyriakos Mitsotakis is the President of New Democracy and the incumbent Prime Minister of Greece. The newly elected mayors will serve a five-year term, starting on 1 January 2024 and ending on 31 December 2028.
Traditionally, the leading opposition party SYRIZA and PASOK, a member of the Party of European Socialists (PES), compete for power in local self-government. However, the election of Stefanos Kasselakis, the new leader of SYRIZA, was a major topic in the media. Kasselakis, who comes from the Athenian suburb of Maroussi, has an extensive media presence and has a silver medal in the Archimedes competition at the age of 14. He has also received a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania and has prior professional experience at Goldman Sachs. The election of Kasselakis is expected to determine the victorious party in the race for local self-government leadership.
In August, Kasselakis announced his candidacy in the SYRIZA intraparty elections, securing a 57% victory with 57% of the votes. With no political experience, Kasselakis aims to establish himself as the “neighbourhood guy” who forged his own path to success, unlike Prime Minister Mitsotakis, who comes from the Greek political elite. He lives with his partner Tyler McBeth and believes in championing a human agenda.
Kasselakis faces challenges, including bringing about changes in Greek society, such as abolishing mandatory military service and separating the church from the state. He must complete his compulsory military service, as he has lived abroad and is now obligated to serve regular military service in Greece. He has expressed his wish to serve his regular military service at the country’s borders, specifically on the Greek-Turkish border.
New Democracy, led by President Mitsotakis, has been on the rise in recent years and secured a historic victory in this year’s parliamentary elections. Despite the devastating wildfires and floods in Greece, New Democracy maintains its lead in recent polls, with a 16 to 19% advantage over SYRIZA. Kasselakis started with a modest initial positive rating of just 32%, compared to his predecessor Tsipras’ 68% positive rating in 2008. Many within the party are dissatisfied with his election, and recent polls predict a split within SYRIZA. There is currently an informal temporary ceasefire within the party until the upcoming elections.
The tourist season in Greece has seen historically high results, with local self-government playing a significant role in the country’s tourism development. The partnership between the local administration and the government in Athens, which is exclusively composed of members of New Democracy, is crucial for the country’s growth. Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyanis, who is the nephew of Prime Minister Mitsotakis, is seeking re-election in the upcoming polls. The capital city of Athens has seen new investments in its metro system and impressive contributions from both domestic and foreign private sector companies in housing, tourism, and entertainment.
Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, is trailing behind the capital, but investments in the Thessaloniki metro are expected to be operational by 2024. Prime Minister Mitsotakis aims to declare New Democracy’s victory in all 13 regions following the second round of local elections. Although a SYRIZA victory in the upcoming local elections appears improbable, the election of Stefanos Kasselakis as the party’s new leader signifies an emerging trend in Greek politics.
Since 2021, there has been significant anticipation surrounding the election of Nikos Androulakis as PASOK president. With Kasselakis leading SYRIZA, the odds of a coalition between the two left-wing parties remain high. The upcoming local elections will not alter the power balance, as New Democracy’s dominance will continue due to a powerful propaganda machine.
The possibility of a prominent LGBT individual challenging the current leadership of New Democracy in Greece, led by Prime Minister Mitsotakis, is being debated. Kasselakis, who has a human agenda and hints at numerous changes, is not a member of the Greek Parliament, which could potentially lead to some parliamentarians resigning, allowing Kasselakis to become a member. However, this has not received a positive response and Kasselakis has suggested it is not his primary objective. Greece’s history, dating back to ancient times, has seen many high-ranking men openly embrace a lifestyle resembling aspects of today’s LGBT community.
Policies of Greece’s New Democracy Party
Greece’s political landscape is dominated by various parties, with the New Democracy Party (NDP) being a prominent figure. The NDP’s economic policy is centred on fiscal responsibility and market-oriented reforms, advocating for a business-friendly environment to attract foreign investment and stimulate economic growth. They support lower taxes for individuals and corporations, believing that a lighter tax burden will encourage economic activity and job creation. The NDP emphasizes reducing Greece’s public debt and maintaining a balanced budget, implementing controversial austerity measures to ensure long-term financial stability and credibility in international markets.
On social issues, the NDP is conservative, holding traditional values and opposing same-sex marriage and adoption rights. They acknowledge women’s rights but are generally less progressive on gender equality issues compared to other European parties. In education, the NDP supports greater autonomy for schools and universities and advocates for decentralization to improve educational outcomes. Greece’s foreign policy has been influenced by geopolitical tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, with the NDP defending Greek territorial integrity and sovereignty, particularly regarding disputes with Turkey over territorial waters and island status.
The New Democracy Party (NDP) is committed to strengthening Greece’s EU and NATO alliances for security and economic development. They support the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy and favour closer European integration. The NDP has a hardline stance on immigration and national security, advocating for stricter border controls and handling the Aegean Sea refugee crisis. They have also addressed environmental concerns by reducing Greece’s carbon footprint and promoting renewable energy sources. Although not as vocal on environmental issues as some other European parties, they recognize the importance of sustainability and have aligned their policies accordingly.
When did Greece restore democracy?
In 1973, Greece emerged from a seven-year period of military junta rule, marking a significant shift in Greek history. The military junta, led by colonels, seized power in a coup d’état in 1967, suspending democracy. The years followed were marked by authoritarian rule, censorship, suppression of political dissent, and human rights abuses. Despite this, the desire for freedom and democracy persisted, leading to underground movements and political resistance.
The turning point occurred on November 17, 1973, when a student-led uprising at Athens Polytechnic University ignited a nationwide protest against the junta. The brutal suppression of the protests, including a bloody crackdown, further galvanized the resistance. Diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions further isolated the regime, crippling the Greek economy.
On July 24, 1974, the junta collapsed, and the junta’s leaders fled the country. Democracy was restored, and on November 14, 1974, Greece ratified a new democratic constitution, paving the way for the first free elections in nearly a decade. This historic moment in Greek history marked a significant shift in the country’s political landscape.
Greece’s transition to democracy is a testament to its resilience and the power of international solidarity. The nation has risen from authoritarianism and is now a symbol of democracy’s strength. To commemorate this historic anniversary, Greece plans events like educational programs, exhibitions, and public lectures to educate the younger generation about democracy and its sacrifices. Greece serves as a beacon of hope for nations striving for political freedoms and human rights, highlighting the enduring power of a determined people yearning for liberty.
Political Landscape of Greece
Greece, a key player in Mediterranean geopolitics, has a complex political system with a constitution adopted in 1975 after a military dictatorship. The system follows a typical democratic structure with three branches: the Executive Branch, headed by the President, and the Legislative Branch responsible for passing laws and overseeing the executive branch.
The Prime Minister, who leads the majority party or coalition in the Hellenic Parliament, holds the real power and is responsible for running the country’s day-to-day affairs. The government is formed by the party or coalition that wins the most seats, with members elected through a proportional representation system for four-year terms. Greece’s judicial system is independent and responsible for interpreting and upholding the law, with the highest court being the Areopagus.
The country’s political landscape is diverse, with numerous parties competing for power. The two main parties are New Democracy and the Panhellenic Socialist Movement. However, the late 2000s economic crisis led to the rise of new parties like Syriza and Golden Dawn, complicating the political scene. The country’s political stability has been tested by the economic crisis, refugee crisis, and ongoing disputes with Turkey over territorial waters in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Greece: Striking a Balance Between Democracy and Governance
Greece, the birthplace of democracy, is currently grappling with questions about its democratic principles. The country’s complex political landscape has led to a growing debate about whether it is still a democracy or leaning towards an authoritarian regime. The 2008 global financial crisis had a devastating impact on the economy, leading to a bailout agreement with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. The subsequent austerity measures were unpopular and led to widespread protests and political instability. Critics argue that these measures undermined democratic processes by imposing policies without the full consent of the Greek people.
Press freedom in Greece has been perceived to be eroded, with reports of censorship, self-censorship, and attacks on journalists raising alarms. Critics argue that these actions stifle the free flow of information and undermine the public’s ability to make informed decisions. Greece’s approach to immigration has also sparked controversy, with the government accused of implementing harsh immigration policies and human rights abuses, raising concerns about the government’s commitment to democratic values and the rule of law.
Greece’s political landscape has seen a rise in populist and nationalist parties, which have been accused of polarizing society and promoting an “us vs. them” mentality. This has led to concerns about the health of Greece’s democratic institutions and the decline in political rights and civil liberties. The Greek government has defended its actions as necessary to address economic challenges, national security, and public order, arguing that the political landscape is dynamic and reflects the will of the people.
The question of whether Greece is a democracy or a dictatorship is complex and contentious, as democracy evolves over time and can face challenges that test its resilience. The path forward for Greece will likely require a delicate balance between addressing pressing issues like economic stability and immigration while upholding core principles of democracy, including press freedom and respect for human rights. It will also depend on a commitment from all political parties and civil society to engage in constructive dialogue and find common ground.