Papandreou, Andreas (1919–1996)

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Greek statesman.

The Greek statesman Andreas Papandreou was born on the island of Chios on 5 February 1919. He was the son of George Papandreou (1888–1968), a leading Liberal politician and prime minister. He studied at the University of Athens. As a student he was involved in a Trotskyite group, and during the Metaxas dictatorship he was arrested. In 1942 he enrolled at Harvard University, where he finished his dissertation in economics. During the 1950s he taught economics at several American universities. In 1959 he returned to Greece to head the Economic Research Center. When his father, who was the leader of the Centre Union Party, was prime minister in 1963–1965, Andreas was among his chief economic advisors. In 1964 Andreas Papandreou was elected a deputy with the Centre Union and was appointed deputy minister of Coordination. His radical views caused the reaction not only of the Conservative Party but also of the more moderate elements in his own party. He was accused of organizing a conspiracy group of leftist officers in the army and that was the beginning of a protracted crisis between King Constantine II (r. 1964–1973) and the government that led to the fall of the George Papandreou cabinet in July 1965.

When the Greek colonels seized power on 21 April 1967 Andreas Papandreou was arrested. In January 1968 he received the permission to leave the country. The same year he established the Panhellenic Liberation Movement (PAK) in Stockholm, and he set out to organize an underground group within Greece. During the military junta (1967–1974) he lived mostly in Sweden and Canada and was involved in a series of campaigns and meetings against the regime in Greece.

In 1974 he returned to Greece and founded the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). The program of the party was quite radical and was a combination of nationalism, populism, and socialism. The influence of PASOK and of its charismatic leader grew spectacularly in the 1970s at the expense of the Center and the Left. In 1974 PASOK received 13.5 percent of the votes but in the next elections after three years it nearly doubled its votes (25 percent). In 1981 PASOK with 48 percent won a landslide victory over the right-wing New Democracy, and Papandreou became the first socialist prime minister in Greek history.

The outstanding achievement of PASOK was a result of the mass mobilization in hundreds of grassroots organizations and of Papandreou's personal charisma. The main slogan of PASOK in the 1981 elections was one word: "change." It reflected the drive of Greek society to overcome the legacy of discriminations against the Left that the Greek Civil War had inherited and the need for social justice and political reform. Yet the vagueness of the term change denoted the populist tendencies of Papandreou's rhetoric. The first term of the socialist government (1981–1985) was marked by measures of redistribution of the national income in favor of the lower classes, expansion of the role of the state in the economy, and the introduction of political and social reforms long overdue. In foreign relations Papandreou steered a middle course between the United States and the Soviet Union and developed good relations with Arab and Balkan countries, save Turkey. PASOK easily won the 1985 election with 46 percent of the vote, but in the second term (1985–1989) the socialist government moved to a more liberal direction. Due to the poor performance of the Greek economy the Socialist government initiated a program of stabilization that broke the cross-class alliance that had brought the Socialist Party to power. The government worked toward a closer cooperation with the European Community while Papandreou after a moment when the tension in Greek-Turkish relations reached its climax (1987) initiated the rapprochement with Turkey. However, many PASOK supporters were disillusioned by its economic policy and a series of corruption scandals, involving Papandreou himself, while his personal life attracted public criticism. PASOK lost the 1989 election, and after new elections and a bitter polarization the New Democracy came to power in 1990.

Papandreou was cleared of all charges and led PASOK to its second term in power. In 1993 PASOK won the election with 47 percent of the votes. Despite the socialist rhetoric, he followed a policy of liberalization and austerity that showed that the differences between the two major parties had largely disappeared. The priority was convergence of the Greek economy with the other European economies, and the objective was the inclusion of Greece in the European Monetary Union. His fragile health, however, would undermine his ability to govern, and in January 1996 he resigned and Kostas Simitis (b. 1936) became the new leader of PASOK. Andreas Papandreou died on 23 June 1996. His son, George Papandreou, minister of foreign affairs in Simitis's government, became the new leader of PASOK in 2004.

See alsoGreece; Socialism; Turkey.


Clogg, Richard, ed. Greece 1981–1989: The Populist Decade. New York and Basingstoke, U.K., 1993.

Sotiropoulos, Dimitrios A. Populism and Bureaucracy: The Case of Greece under PASOK, 1981–1989. Notre Dame, Ind., and London, 1996.

Spourdalakis, Michalis. The Rise of the Greek Socialist Party. London, 1988.

Polymeris Voglis