Panhellenic Socialist Movement

Panhellenic Socialist Movement
Panhellenic Socialist Movement
Πανελλήνιο Σοσιαλιστικό Κίνημα
Leader George Papandreou
Founder Andreas Papandreou
Slogan Πρώτα ο Πολίτης
(The Citizen First)
Founded 3 September 1974
Headquarters 22, Ippokratous St.,
106 80 Athens
Youth wing PASOK Youth
Ideology Social democracy
Political position Centre-left
International affiliation Socialist International
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
European Parliament Group Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Official colours Green
153 / 300
Seats in the European Parliament
8 / 22
Council members in the Peripheries
373 / 725
Politics of Greece
Political parties

The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Greek: Πανελλήνιο Σοσιαλιστικό Κίνημα, IPA: [panelˈlinio sosialistiˈko ˈcinima]), known mostly by its acronym PASOK (Greek: ΠΑΣΟΚ, pronounced [paˈsok]), is one of the two major political parties in Greece. Founded on 3 September 1974 by Andreas Papandreou,[1] in 1981 PASOK became Greece's first social democratic party to win a majority in parliament.[2]

The party is a socialist party and a member of the Socialist International,[3] [4] but this has come under scrutiny by a portion of the Greek public and media in recent years, as they criticize PASOK for abandoning its original socialist principles; PASOK's traditional supporters, including labor unionists, farmers and university students, were strongly against the 2009-2011 George Papandreou government[5][6][7][8][9][10] In the 2009 elections PASOK won a majority in parliament of 160 seats,[11] and it currently holds a slim majority of 152 seats.[12] It also holds 8 seats in the European Parliament.[11]

The current president of PASOK is George Papandreou, who is also president of the Socialist International and was Prime Minister of Greece between 2009 and 2011.




PASOK was established on 3 September 1974 following the restoration of Greek democracy after the collapse of the military dictatorship of 1967-1974. Its founder was Andreas Papandreou, son of the late Greek liberal leader and three times Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou, Sr. Its founding mottos were "National Independence, Popular Sovereignty, Social Emancipation, Democratic Process." Andreas Papandreou was offered the leadership of the liberal political forces immediately after the restoration of democracy, but in a risky move he declined, so the leadership was assumed by Georgios Mavros. Papandreou also explicitly rejected the ideological heritage of his father, and stressed the fact that he was a socialist, not a liberal. Papandreou was a very powerful orator and charismatic leader, probably the last in the political history of Greece.

The first years

At the November 1974 elections PASOK received only 13.5% of the vote and won 15 seats (out of 300), coming third behind the center-right New Democracy party of Konstantinos Karamanlis and the centrist Center Union - New Forces of Georgios Mavros. At the November 1977 elections, however, PASOK eclipsed the centrists, doubled its share of the vote and won 92 seats, becoming the main opposition party.

In government

At the October 1981 national elections PASOK won a landslide victory with 48% of the vote and capturing 173 seats; it formed the first socialist government in the history of Greece since 1924. Although Papandreou had campaigned for withdrawal of Greece from NATO and the European Economic Community, he changed his policy towards both institutions. He proved to be an excellent negotiator when it came to securing benefits and subsidies for Greece from the EEC. For example, in 1985 he openly threatened Jacques Delors to veto the entry of Spain and Portugal in the Community in order to secure more monetary aid for Greece.[13]

In 1986, the PASOK government amended the Greek constitution to remove most powers from the President and give wider authority to the Prime Minister and the Executive Government. Civil marriages, not consecrated by religious ceremony, were recognized as equally valid with religious weddings. The left-wing Resistance movement against the Axis in World War II was recognized after, and leftist resistance fighters were given state pensions, while political refugees of the Greek Civil War were finally given permission to return to Greece. The National Health System was created. Various repressive laws of the anti-communist postwar establishment were abolished; wages were boosted; an independent and multidimensional foreign policy was pursued; there were many reforms in Family Law to strengthen the rights of women; and the Greek Gendarmerie was abolished in 1984.[14] At the June 1985 elections, PASOK got 46% of the vote and won 161 seats, thus securing a stable parliamentary majority for its second term in power. PASOK continued to be popular for much of its second term, especially when in March 1987 Andreas Papandreou vigorously and successfully handled a crisis in the Aegean with Turkey. By late 1988 however, both the government's popularity and Papandreou's health had declined. The former, due to press reports of financial and corruption scandals that surfaced, implicating Ministers and, allegedly, Papandreou himself as well as due to fiscal austerity measures imposed after the Keynesian policies of the first term. PASOK lost the June 1989 elections with 40% of the vote while the opposing New Democracy got 44,3%. PASOK had changed the electoral law before the elections, making it harder for the leading party to form a majority government, so the legislature was deadlocked. PASOK's share of the vote in June 1989 was not considered a failure; for months there was a concerted mudslinging aimed at PASOK by the conservative press.

Another election in November produced a very similar result. After a brief period of a grand coalition government, in which PASOK participated, a third election in April 1990 brought New Democracy back to power. Despite a 7% lead in popular vote over PASOK, New Democracy could only secure a marginal majority in the parliament, electing 152 MPs out of a total of 300; PASOK had secured a larger number of representatives on a lower percentage of votes, as well as a smaller lead, in the elections of 1985, under the previous electoral system. PASOK's representation in parliament shrunk to 121 MPs in 1990.

In opposition, PASOK underwent a leadership crisis when Papandreou was prosecuted over his supposed involvement in the Bank of Crete scandal. He was eventually acquitted and, in a dramatic reversal of fortunes, at the October 1993 elections he led PASOK to another landslide victory. PASOK returned to office with 47% of the vote. His re-election was considered by many a vote of confidence of the public against his prosecution. In November 1995, however, Papandreou's health began to deteriorate and PASOK was racked with leadership conflicts.

The "modernization" period

In January 1996 Papandreou retired after a protracted three-month long hospitalization, during which he retained the role of prime minister; he died six months later. He was succeeded by Costas Simitis, the candidate of the modernising, pro-European wing of PASOK (the so-called "modernizers", εκσυγχρονιστές), who won an internal vote against Akis Tsochatzopoulos, a Papandreou confidant. In the first days following his election, Simitis faced the biggest crisis in Greek politics for over 20 years, the Imia crisis. Simitis was criticized for his soft stance against Turkey and especially for praising in public the American intervention.

In a PASOK conference in the summer of 1996, following Papandreou's death, Simitis was elected leader of the Party and called early elections seeking a renewed public vote of confidence. Although the Imia crisis had somewhat tarnished his image, the country's economic prosperity and his matter-of-fact administration won him the September 1996 general election with 41.5% of the vote. Under Simitis' leadership, PASOK had two major successes : In September 1997 Greece won the right to stage the 2004 Olympic Games and in 2001 it was confirmed that the country would be included in the Euro-zone, for which it had failed to meet the convergence criteria in 1998. Simitis won another term in April 2000, narrowly winning with 43.8% of the vote and 158 seats: a substantial achievement for a party which had been in power almost continuously for nearly 20 years.

In 2000, after the assassination of Brigadier Saunders by the terrorist group 17 November (17N), and especially with the forthcoming Athens Olympics being a major terrorist target, significant international pressure was exerted on PASOK authorities to recognise that Greece had a terrorist problem and secondly, to bring the terrorist group to justice. Some amongst the western media had even accused PASOK of colluding with the terrorists. Under the guidance of British and US experts, the government intensified its efforts and finally, with a string of events starting at 29 June 2002, the 17N members were captured and put to trial.

Nevertheless, PASOK was losing its traditional appeal to the Greek lower and middle classes. In order to revitalize PASOK's chances for the next elections, Costas Simitis 7 January 2004 announced his resignation as leader of PASOK. He was succeeded by George Papandreou, son of Andreas Papandreou. PASOK hoped that Papandreou could reverse the slide in the opinion polls which saw the opposition New Democracy party, under Kostas Karamanlis, 7% ahead at the start of the year.

But although Papandreou reduced ND's lead in the polls to 3%, he was unable to reverse the view of a majority of Greek voters that PASOK had been in power too long and had grown lazy, corrupt and had abandoned the inclusive, progressive principles of economic parity on which it was founded. ND had a comfortable win at the 7 March elections, placing PASOK in opposition after eleven years in office with 40.55% share of the vote and 117 seats.

2007 parliamentary elections

PASOK electoral campaign kiosk in Athens in 2007

On 16 September 2007, the New Democracy party headed by Costas Karamanlis won re-election with a marginal majority of 152 seats in the parliament. Despite ND's falling performance in the Greek legislative election, 2007, PASOK suffered a crushing defeat, registering 38.1% of the vote, its lowest percentage in almost 30 years, and 102 seats in Parliament.

The dismal result led to activation of the procedure to select new leadership, or to reaffirm the previous one. The main competitors for the leadership were the incumbent George Papandreou and the party's informal second in command, Professor Evangelos Venizelos, MP for Thessaloniki. Kostas Skandalidis also announced his candidacy in September. According to party regulation, leaders are elected in a voting process open to all party members. During the leadership election of 11 November 2007 George Papandreou was re-elected by the friends and members of the party as the leader of PASOK.

2009 elections

In June 2009, PASOK won the 2009 European Parliament election in Greece.[15][16] Four months later, the party enjoyed a resounding victory in the October 2009 general elections with 43.92 % of the popular vote to ND's 33.48 %, and 160 parliament seats to 91.[17] Due to a number of defections and expulsions since 2009, PASOK currently (from 1 November 2011) holds a slim majority of 152 of the parliament's 300 seats.[12]

A poll in October 2011 on behalf of the Greek TV channel Skai TV and the newspaper Kathimerini revealed that, of the people asked, 92% felt disappointed by the government while only 5% believe that a PASOK government would be best for the country in the next elections.[18] In the same survey, when asked about whether people have a positive or negative opinion of the various Greek political parties, PASOK scored as the lowest, with 76% answering "negative", although it should be acknowledged that all the parties had strongly negative assessments.[18] The same survey showed that PASOK's support if elections were to be held would be 22.5%,[18] the lowest since 1977,[19] while gaining only 53-77 seats.[18]


The regions that consistently support PASOK are Crete, West Greece, the Ionian Islands, the vast majority of the Aegean Islands and, in recent years, Thrace. In Crete there is a long tradition of republicanism, liberalism and progressivism from the tradition of Eleftherios Venizelos. West Greece is the birthplace and powerbase of the Papandreou family. The Ionian Islands, partly because they escaped the ravages of Ottoman rule, have always been the most politically progressive Greek regions and it was in these islands that the Greek socialist movement first developed. The Aegean Islands have benefited from various welfare measures implemented by successive PASOK governments, while in Thrace, the local Muslim minority consistently prefers PASOK over the right-wing New Democracy. On the other hand, PASOK usually comes second to the conservative New Democracy party in the Peloponnese, in Central Macedonia and in West Macedonia. Other regions such as Thessaly and Central Greece do not have a very strong political identity.

Party Organization


The Panhellenic Socialist Movement began as a democratic socialist party and is a member of the Socialist International.[3] During Andreas Papandreou's leadership, wages were substantially boosted and capital gains were progressively taxed. At the very beginning, the members and the leadership of the party, were very critical of NATO and the European Economic Community. This attitude was soon abandoned and the Greek participation in EEC was enforced. Andreas Papandreou kept a close relationship with leaders like Yasser Arafat and Muammar Gaddafi while the latter was still devulging his ideal of an Islamic socialist republic. He wished to create a world where wealth and power would be shared by more countries than just the United States. After Papandreou's death, Kostas Simitis was elected president of PASOK. Simitis represented the centre-left and centrist factions of the Movement and this resulted to his effort to modernize PASOK, making it a purely social democratic party. Tight fiscal policies, privatization of state enterprises and a broadening of the tax base (by shifting the tax burden to the lower quintiles) were implemented. Direct result of these policies, was the electoral defeat of PASOK in 2004. The strictly neoliberal New Democracy policies adopted by the new government, forced PASOK to turn left under the promising leadership of George Papandreou. Five years later, after the new electoral triumph of PASOK in 2009, expectations were high. Due to an enormous deficit, in 2010, the Prime Minister and leader of PASOK, adopted neoliberal policies , allegedly under the pressure of the European Union, like further privatization of state enterprises, salary cuts and heavier taxation of working and middle class citizens. Additionally, the country was forced to ask for a loan from the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. These policies, caused major demonstrations against the government with the participation of the more left factions of the party as well. This abandonment of PASOK's original principles and ideas, caused great discomfort to the voters of the party even though it seems that it still retains its popularity against New Democracy and the parties of the Left. This September, during the assembly of the National Council in memory of the foundation of the party, an ideological debate will take place.

Party leaders

Nepotism is common in Greek politics; George Papandreou was preceded by both his father, Andreas, and his grandfather, Georgios Papandreou, as prominent Greek political leaders.[20]

Electoral performance in parliamentary elections since 1974

Year Party Leader Number of votes Percentage of votes Number of members in the Hellenic Parliament Position in Parliament
Andreas Papandreou
Minor opposition party
Andreas Papandreou
Main opposition party
Andreas Papandreou
Andreas Papandreou
Andreas Papandreou
Main opposition party
Andreas Papandreou
Member of an all-party coalition government
Andreas Papandreou
Main opposition party
Andreas Papandreou
Costas Simitis
Costas Simitis
George A. Papandreou
Main opposition party
George A. Papandreou
Main opposition party
George A. Papandreou
160 (now 153)

See also


  1. ^ "1974 - Ίδρυση ΠΑΣΟΚ, 3η Σεπτέμβρη 1974 [1974 - Founding of PASOK, 3rd September 1974]". Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  2. ^ "1981 - Εθνικές Εκλογές - Οκτώβριος 1981 [1981 - National Elections - October 1981]". Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "MEMBER PARTIES of the SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL". Socialist International. Retrieved Novemeber 8, 2011. "Greece Panhellenic Socialist Movement, PASOK" 
  4. ^ "Συμβόλαιο με το Λαό [A Contract with the People]". Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  5. ^ "Και «σοσιαλισμός» και βαρβαρότητα [Both "socialism" and barbarity]". Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "ΠΑΣΟΚ Θεσσαλονίκης «Αν το θέλουμε σοσιαλιστικό, πρέπει να αλλάξει πολιτική» [PASOK Thessaloniki "If we want it socialist, it much change policies"]". Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  7. ^ "«Κεραυνοί» ΠΑΣΚΕ κατά ΠΑΣΟΚ ["Lightnings" against PASOK by PASKE]". Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  8. ^ "Το ΠαΣοΚ αναζητεί την ψυχή του [PASOK is searching for its psyche]". Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "Σοσιαλιστές σε αναζήτηση προοπτικής [Socialists in search of prospect]". Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  10. ^ "ΒΑΣΙΛΗΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΙΚΟΣ - Το ΠΑΣΟΚ να βγάλει τη λέξη «σοσιαλιστικό» από το όνομά του [VASILIS VASILIKOS - PASOK should remove the world "socialist" from its name]". Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  11. ^ a b "Τα σπουδαιότερα γεγονότα του χρόνου που φεύγει [The most important events of this year]". p. 2. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "Βουλευτές - Ανά Κοινοβουλευτική Ομάδα [MPs - By Parliamentary Group]". Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  13. ^ Richard Clogg, Parties and Elections in Greece, 1987
  14. ^ Richard Clogg, a Concise History of Greece, 2002
  15. ^ "European election results 2009 for Greece". Results of the 2009 European Elections. Ministry of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 2009-10-06. 
  16. ^ "PASOK Wins EP Elections - Abstention Rate High". ERT ( 2009-06-08. Retrieved 2009-10-06. [dead link]
  17. ^ "Greek legislative election, 2009 results". Results of the 2009 Greek legislative elections. Ministry of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 2009-10-06. [dead link]
  18. ^ a b c d "Πολιτικό Βαρόμετρο 95 - Οκτώβριος 2011". Public Issue ( October 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  19. ^ "Public Issue: Σε αδιέξοδο η κοινωνία, δημοσκοπική κατάρρευση για ΠΑΣΟΚ". Skai TV ( October 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  20. ^ Landon Thomas, Jr. (November 7, 2011). "A Greek Political Scion Undone by Economics". The New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2011. "And while he understood, at least theoretically, how urgent it was for Greece to cut its bloated public work force, actually doing so proved almost impossible for a man who owed his political position to his party’s deep connections with the powerful unions for civil servants." 
  • Dimitris Michalopoulos, "PASOK and the Eastern Block", in Greece under Socialism, New Rochelle, New York: Orpheus Publishing Inc., 1988, pp. 339–337. ISBN 0-89241-460-X

External links

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