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Greece Coalition Government, 1989-90
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    All opposition parties called for "cleansing" in the June 1989 election, which nevertheless included an orgy of mudslinging from both left and right. PASOK alleged that some ND leaders, including Mitsotakis, also had dealt with Koskotas. The election was a clear victory for ND, which obtained 44 percent of the vote and 145 seats. A coalition of the left, which included the proand antiMoscow branches of the Communist Party of Greece (Kommunistikon Komma Ellados--KKE) and smaller groups, running under the name Synaspismos (Coalition), also made its best showing of the postjunta years, gaining 13 percent of the vote and 27 seats. Given the circumstances, however, PASOK also did remarkably well, depriving the ND of a clear majority in the Assembly by gaining 39 percent of the vote and 125 seats.

    Mitsotakis struck an unusual bargain with the two branches of the KKE to achieve a governing majority. The three parties formed a coalition government that would prepare the country for a new national election in the fall of 1989 while simultaneously pursuing the cleansing process in public life. The KKE agreed to join the coalition on condition that Mitsotakis not be appointed prime minister. Accordingly, the new government was led by ND deputy Tzannis Tzannetakis, a former naval officer, and KKE members were appointed to several ministries, including the Ministry of Justice. In a political system with a traditionally huge gulf between the right and the left, the notion of the ND governing together with the communists was truly novel. This coalition marked a major step toward national reconciliation and the legitimation of the communist party within the body politic. After a hasty investigation and a number of emotional and tense parliamentary sessions in July and August 1989, the ND-KKE majority voted to indict Papandreou and several of his close political lieutenants for involvement in the Koskotas affair and also for illegal wiretapping activities. Both allegations were categorically denied by Papandreou. Under the law, the ex-prime minister and his associates would be tried by a special court of twenty-five judges, presided over by the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

    In November 1989, Greece held its second national election of the year, using the same system of reinforced proportional representation as in June. Papandreou, anticipating that ND would be able to form a majority government this time, pleaded with the Synaspismos leaders to join PASOK in entirely eliminating the reinforcement of parliamentary representation, fulfilling a long-standing aspiration of the left. However, KKE leaders, who had spent many years battling for exactly this type of electoral system, instead stood by their earlier promise to Mitsotakis that they would not seek to change the electoral law.

    The ND won the second 1989 election with 46 percent of the vote, but its 149 seats fell two short of a parliamentary majority. The biggest surprise of the election was the performance of PASOK, which most political observers expected to have a disastrous showing. Indeed, the election may be seen as the greatest political triumph in PASOK's history: with its leader in poor health and facing trial for corruption and other offenses and virulent attacks from the right and the left (both trying to deal PASOK a decisive blow), the party still obtained nearly 41 percent of the popular vote, an increase of 1.5 percent over its showing earlier in the year. The patronage that PASOK had dispensed before the June election was not available to it in November, meaning that the party depended more heavily on its own merits.

    Synaspismos, by contrast, suffered a major defeat in November 1989, losing almost 20 percent of their previous national vote, most of it in the large cities where they had done particularly well in June. One explanation was that Synaspismos supporters felt betrayed by the close cooperation with the right under the Tzannetakis government and returned to the PASOK fold in November. Many voters apparently saw the KKE attack on PASOK as politically opportunistic, and the rush to indict the ailing Papandreou may have also generated sympathy for the him as the victim of a political conspiracy.

    No party was able to form a government and with KKE unwilling to enter another right-left coalition, Mitsotakis and Papandreou joined KKE leader Kharilaos Florakis in temporary support of an government of national unity, led by the respected octogenarian former governor of the Bank of Greece, Xenophon Zolotas. At a time of swift economic deterioration, the notion of a grand coalition of ND, PASOK and KKE generated much popular relief initially. However, it soon became clear that constant bickering among the factions and deep animosity between Papandreou and Mitsotakis would undermine the government of national unity. In April 1990, yet another election was held.

    Data as of December 1994

    NOTE: The information regarding Greece on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Greece Coalition Government, 1989-90 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Greece Coalition Government, 1989-90 should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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