Andreas Papandreou

Founder of the Panhellenic Socialist Party (PASOK), Andreas Papandreou (1919-1996) is credited with introducing a socialist dimension into Greek politics, first as the leader of the opposition and then as prime minister of Greece.

Andreas Papandreou was undoubtedly one of the most controversial political figures of 20th-century Greece. His father, George Papandreou, was known as the "grand old man" of Greek politics. Andreas made his entry into Greek politics through his father who, as head of the Center Union Party, served as prime minister of the country in 1964.

Papandreou was born on February 5, 1919, on the island of Chios. He began his studies as a law student at the University of Athens in 1936. Papandreou displayed an early interest in politics, championing progressive ideas that got him into difficulties with the Metaxas dictatorship. He was arrested and tortured, and after his release left Greece to continue his education in the United States. Papandreou received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1943. For the next two decades he made his home in the US, where he held various posts as lecturer and professor of economics at several universities, among them Harvard, Minnesota, Northwestern, and the University of California at Berkeley, where he was dean of faculty from 1956 to 1959.

His experiences with the Metaxas dictatorship in Greece, his progressive or leftist leanings, and his American experience gave Papandreou the dubious distinction of being branded by his political opponents as both a tool of the Kremlin and as an agent of the CIA. These ill-founded allegations contributed to the controversial profile of Andreas Papandreou as he became more involved in Greek politics in the 1960s.

Papandreou's controversial behavior was often exaggerated by those who interpret politics or policy entirely in terms of public statements. Still, his presence in Greek politics brought with it a critical attitude toward United States policy, especially the status of American bases in the country; a reserved attitude toward the European Union; a toughening of his position toward Turkey over the Cyprus issue; a policy of rapprochement toward the (former) Soviet Union; an open-arms' policy toward third world countries; and above all the introduction of socialism as a potentially viable political and economic system for Greece. With the exception of the latter, many of his policies had in fact been initiated by his predecessor, and careful analysis points to remarkably few radical departures despite alarming reports to the contrary. Even Papandreou's "socialism" deserved careful study.


Scholar and Politician

Papandreou was an impressive synthesis of a scholar-statesman. He was articulate and possessed a sharp, analytical mind that served him well in both professions. A prolific writer, he was the author of several scholarly and political monographs and contributed to scores of collaborative volumes, scholarly journals, and encyclopedias. He wrote in both Greek and English and many of his works were translated into Italian, Spanish, French, and Scandinavian languages.

This wide range of interests can be ascertained by a look at his major publications: A Test of Stochastic Theory of Choice (1957); The Course of Economic Thought (1960); Planning Resource Allocation for Economic Development (1962); "Theory Construction and Empirical Meaning in Economics, " American Economic Review (May 1963); Fundamentals of Model Construction in Macroeconomics (1962); A Strategy for Greek Economic Development (1962); An Introduction to Social Science: Personality, Work, Community, with A. Naftalin, B. Nelson, M. Sibley, D. Calhoun (1953, revised editions 1957, 1961); Competition and its Regulation, with J. T. Wheeler (1954); Economics as a Science (1958); Democracy at Gunpoint (1970); "Greece: Neocolonialism and Revolution, " Monthly Review (December 1972); "The Multinational Corporation, " The Canadian Forum (March 1973); "Multinational Corporations and Empire, " Social Praxis (1973); and "Greece: The November Uprising, " Monthly Review (February 1974).

It was Papandreou's activities as an economist that first involved him in earnest in Greek politics. In 1959 he left the University of California at Berkeley to return to Greece on an economic development research assignment. In 1961 he was appointed chairman of the board and director general of the Center for Economic Research in Athens, while serving as an adviser to the Bank of Greece (1961-1962).

Papandreou's political career began in 1962 with his election as deputy for Achaia in the Center Union Party, led by his father. After the national victory of the Center Union in 1964, he was appointed to the post of minister to the prime minister and later deputy minister of coordination. These activities were cut off by the military coup of April 21, 1967. As was expected, Papandreou was arrested by the colonels who headed the new regime. His release the following year was partly the result of a campaign mounted by many of his colleagues, fellow scholars, and political friends outside Greece.

After his release he first went to Sweden where he became professor of economics at Stockholm University (1968-1969) and from there to Canada where he taught at York University in Toronto. During one of his first appearances on American television, Papandreou said that his release was a major mistake of the colonels and that some day he was going to return to active politics in Greece. Indeed, during the colonels' regime he led an active anti-junta movement in Europe and the United States known as PAK (Panhellenic Liberation Movement) that was decidedly anti-colonel and critical of any nation which helped the colonels stay in power. PAK remained active until July 1974, when the dictatorship fell.


From Opposition Leader to Prime Minister

Papandreou returned to Greece in September 1974 and organized the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), of which he became chairman. In the next election, held in November 1974, PASOK obtained 15 seats in Parliament, winning 13.5 percent of the vote. That was only the beginning. Capitalizing on his experiences outside Greece, Papandreou organized PASOK as a socialistic political party, the first in Greece's history. The result was impressive. By the following elections (November 1977) PASOK doubled its vote percentage and became the main opposition party in Parliament with 93 seats. As leader of the opposition, Papandreou began a barrage of criticism of the New Democracy Party by insisting that a more fundamental change in Greece's domestic and foreign policy was needed. Indeed in the elections of October 18, 1981, Papandreou campaigned with the slogan Allaghi (change), which led to PASOK's triumph with 48 percent of the vote and 173 seats in Parliament. In the PASOK-dominated government sworn in on October 21, 1981, Andreas Papandreou became prime minister, assuming as well the portfolio of the ministry of defense.

Papandreou's victory was received as a breath of fresh air, and the confidence in his leadership was not different from that inspired by John F. Kennedy in the United States 20 years earlier. With his American wife Margaret Chadd and their four children, Papandreou proceeded to leave his mark on the Greek political scene. The emphasis was decidedly socialistic, although many foreign observers wondered whether Greek socialism was going to follow a Western European model—mainly, honoring civil liberties and democratic processes as guaranteed by the constitution of 1974—or a third world model of socialism which could move the country in the direction of a single party state. Partly because of the interest of Papandreou's wife Margaret, PASOK actively championed women's rights, and on several issues PASOK policy widened the separation between church and state. Understandably, the Papandreou experiment faced formidable difficulties, the most serious being inflation, continuous devaluation of the drachma, and hesitation of foreign investors to take their chances with a country in "socialist transition."

The domestic policy was tied to Greece's foreign policy, especially its anti-NATO or anti-American stance automatically associated with Papandreou's general policy. Many called him "NATO's bad boy, " who was going to get rid of the American bases or at least have them renegotiated with terms more advantageous to Greece. Part of the change that Papandreou sought from the beginning was a change in the attitude of the great powers, especially the United States, who seemed to take the Greeks for granted. It was his way of searching for national dignity.

Papandreou's troubles with the Western alliance stemmed from Greece's troubles with Turkey over the Cyprus issue and with the economic and military aid extended to both Greece and Turkey by the United States. These tensions had their impact on the Greek economy and politics and account partly for the loss of some of PASOK's power in the June 2, 1985 elections and in the municipal elections the following year. Papandreou then became more conciliatory toward the West, even toning-down his rhetoric. In fact, his moderate policies left some socialists a bit disillusioned, whereas his former critics began to appreciate his stabilizing role positioned between East and West and his attempts to attract foreign investors to Greece.

One of the distinctive features of Papandreou's foreign policy was his emphasis on dètente, peace, and international cooperation. He advocated nuclear free zones in the Balkans and in northern Europe, as well as a nuclear free corridor in central Europe. But probably his most important move was with the "Initiative of the Six"—Greece, India, Argentina, Mexico, Tanzania, and Sweden—which urged the leaders of the superpowers to put an immediate halt to all nuclear weapon tests. The "Initiative of the Six" won the international peace prize of the Beyond War Foundation. On a personal level, Papandreou received honorary doctor degrees from York University (Canada), Humbold University (Berlin), and Cracow University (Poland).

In 1988 Papandreou underwent successful open heart surgery in London. He began campaigning for his third term as prime minister with his young mistress, Diamitra Liania. He divorced his wife Margaret and declared Diamitra as the new first lady of Greece. Shortly thereafter, Papandreou was accused of helping to embezzle hundreds of millions of dollars by ordering state corporations to transfer their holdings to the Bank of Crete, where the interest was allegedly used to benefit the Socialist party. The combination of the bank corruption scandal, his public extramarital affair, and Greece's economic downturn caused Papandreou to lose favor with his citizens; he lost the election to the New Democratics.

In 1992 Papandreou was cleared of all connections to the Crete Bank financial scandal, whereupon he called for immediate general elections with the charge that the New Democratics' 1990 victory was achieved as the result of false accusations. Papandreou returned to power as prime minister in 1993 with the promise to bring stability and economic development to Greece.

In January 1996, after being hospitalized for two months for heart and lung problems, Papandreou resigned from office stating that the country could not be "incapacitated" by his illness. He ordered the Socialist party to immediately proceed to elect a new prime minister. He was succeeded by Costas Simitis, former industry minister. Papandreou died on June 23, 1996 of heart complications at his home in Greece. Papandreou was survived by his wife Diamitra, and his four children.


Further Reading on Andreas Papandreou

There is no biography or monographic study of this charismatic and controversial figure. Much information about his ideas and political activities may be gathered from Papandreou's own book Democracy at Gunpoint (1970), which is largely autobiographical. Also useful for the 1950s and 1960s is Keith Legg, Politics in Modern Greece (1969) and for the later period Richard Clogg, editor, Greece in the 1980s (1983). Two more recent studies are Roy C. Macridis, Greek Politics at a Crossroads—What Kind of Socialism (1984) and Zafiris Tzannatos, editor, Socialism in Greece (1986). Finally, the following studies shed considerable light on Greece and Papandreou: Guillermo O'Donnell, Philippe G. Schmitter, and Laurence Whitehead, editors, Transitions from Authoritarian Rule. Southern Europe (1986); Jed C. Snyder, Defending the Fringe. NATO, the Mediterranean, and the Persian Gulf (1987); Frances Nicholson and Roger East, From Six to Twelve: the Enlargement of the European Communities (1987); and Richard Pomfret, Mediterranean Policy of the European Community. A Study of Discrimination of Trade (1986). Also see the Websites and