Greece INTEREST GROUPS
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
Since the establishment of a modern Greek parliamentary system, the representation of individual interests has relied on direct, one-to-one relations between politicians and constituents. In contrast to other Western democracies, Greek civic culture has not encouraged the development of permanent pressure groups that would foster pluralism by combining individual demands into coherent interest groups. Joining a political party and establishing direct personal contacts with party officials are still considered to be the most effective methods for reaching individual goals.
Even in the latter half of the twentieth century, Greece differs from other industrialized countries by the presence of only a handful of fragile interest groups whose demands are almost always economic and activated on specific occasions rather than displaying a broader conception of the "public good." For example, once a labor dispute has been settled by the government (sometimes following strikes that have crippling effects on the economy), the seemingly intransigent labor organizers relapse into political inertia until the time for negotiating the next wage raise. The role of broader pressure groups, on the other hand, has traditionally been usurped by the ability of the political parties to represent and monopolize meaningful, long-term social issues-- and by the willingness of citizens to have politicians carry their message.
This pattern originates in the politics of the protracted Ottoman occupation and in the patterns of political behavior resulting from delayed industrial development. A traditional Greek oligarchy, functioning as exclusive local employers in a predominantly agricultural economy, became the organizational center for the exchange of governmental favors for votes. Until 1900 the virtual absence of competing private employers, such as those that would have emerged in industries, established the state as the ultimate employer through the representation of the state by the oligarchy. As the oligarchy served the government and perpetuated its mechanisms, for that class the state became the exclusive educator and bestower of legitimacy.
As industry grew slowly, the political party system emerged as the natural broker for aggregating interests, as it constantly refined the procedure of the personal exchange of favors. As a result, the political system failed to produce interest groups that would mobilize against the excessive concentration of power in the hands of political parties. Instead, the Greek political parties came to compete constantly for position within each and every interest group that appeared. Over time, personal favors granted by politicians replaced official procedures and became what one observer has termed the "lubricating oil of the system." The platform of change on which PASOK rose to power in 1981 included a promise to abolish the exchange-of-favors system, which was universally viewed as the source of all political evil. But as PASOK governments ushered in an era of fresh politicians whose power came not from a local or provincial base but from the personal charisma of their party leader, clientelism merely assumed a new populist form. In attempting to enlarge its system of political mass participation and incorporation, PASOK sought to suffuse all cultural and civic domains with its own political spirit. As it continued into the 1980s, this politicization eventually weakened Greece's already feeble institutions of nonpolitical social advocacy. In the 1990s, this tendency caused potentially active advocacy groups such as labor unions, the church, the military, and the mass media--traditional sources of large-scale advocacy in Western democracies--to remain quiescent except for occasional strikes.
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 INTEREST GROUPS information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Greece INTEREST GROUPS should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.