Greek legislative election, 1920

Greek legislative election, 1920

The legislative elections of 1920 were probably the most crucial elections in the modern history of Greece, influencing not only the few years afterwards, including Greece's defeat by Kemal Atatürk's Turkish reformed army in 1922, but setting the stage for Greece's political landscape for most of the rest of the 20th century. It had been nearly 6 years since the last General Election, a period during which all democratic procedures were suspended, when Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos announced that the legislative elections would take place on October 25, 1920. However, after the unexpected death of King Alexander, who had assumed the throne after the exile of his father, King Constantine I, the elections were postponed until November 1st.
Eleftherios Venizelos regarded his Liberal Party's victory as all but certain, because of his diplomatic and military successes against Turkey. Nevertheless, the final electoral results represented nothing short of a disaster for Venizelos. Not only did the so-called United Opposition achieve an absolute majority of seats in Parliament, but Venizelos himself was not elected. Humiliated and disappointed by the outcome of the election, Venizelos left the country for France, also leaving his Liberal Party without a logical successor or any strong leadership.

The reasons of the unexpected defeat of the Liberals included:
1) The electoral system: The Liberal Party took almost 7,000 more votes (50, 23%, 375.803 votes) than the Opposition, but it received just 118 seats, while the Opposition received 251 seats
2) The conservative and right-wing opposition managed to unite under a highly esteemed leader, Dimitrios Gounaris.
3) The United Opposition managed to turn the elections into a referendum on the exiled King Constantine I.
4) The Greek people were tired after almost a decade of wars and division; the United Opposition promised peace and the people trusted it.


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