Constantine Caramanlis was the Prime Minister of Greece from 1955 to 1963. Following his election defeat to George Papandreou (Papandreou's Center Union party won some 175 seats at the time) and after a dispute with King Paul, Constantine Caramanlis left Greece for France. The fall of the Junta after 7 years (1967-74), paved the way for the return of Constantine Caramanlis from self-imposed exile. Free elections were held in November 1974, with Constantine Caramanlis' New Democracy party winning 220 of the 300 seats in the unicameral (one chamber) Parliament. He was elected for a 4-year term. Constantine Caramanlis told the press, "Without bloodshed, without upheavals, and finally with the free expression of the will of the people, democracy has retuned to its birthplace." 

In December 1974, a referendum was held to decide whether Greece would keep its 142 years old monarchy or become a republic. 68.8% said yes to a republic. 31.2% said yes to keeping the monarchy. Ionannis Panidis told United Press International in 1977, "The trains are late and crowded, the planes are usually grounded, the schools are often closed by teacher strikes, and prices have skyrocketed. But democracy has a sweet taste." UPI observed, "The decision cleared the way for the Greek Parliament to begin work on a new Constitution and prepare for presidential elections." It was in 1843, the Greek people first gathered at Constitution Square to demand Otto of Bavaria, Greece's first King to give the Greek people a Constitution. King Constantine was Greece's 7th and last King. 

The new Constitution was introduced in 1975 with Constantine Tsatsos elected as President (or Head of State) on a 5-year term. Constantine Caramanlis succeeded Constantine Tsatsos as President in 1980. Georgee Rallis succeeded Constantine Caramanlis as Prime Minister until he lost the election in 1981. It was reported in 1985, Andreas Papandreou sought revisions of the Constitution to make the President a figurehead and transfer the real power to the Prime Minister and the ruling party. "Because the 1975 Constitution could provoke a clash between the President and the ruling party, we are decisively strengthening the powers of Parliament and reducing those of the President," Andreas Papandreou announced in March 1985. As a result, the President would no longer be empowered to dissolve Parliament, dismiss the Prime Minister, order a Referendum or call a State of Emergency. George Rallis made the comment in 1981, "The enormous majority of Greek people are very satisfied with the democracy that we have. There is no possibility to overthrow democracy. But when we hear about some plans we are obliged to take measures."

In 1981, Andreas Papandreou's Panhellenic Socialist Movement party (Pasok) won 174 seats to become the first socialist government since the end of Greece's civil war in 1949 after over 3 decades of right-wing rule in the land where democracy was born thousands of years before. Andreas Papandreou's party won another 4-year term in 1985 with 154 seats. In 1989, the party lost the election winning only 128 seats. But in 1993, Andreas Papandreou was re-elected with his party winning 171 seats. Leslie Lipson of Knight-Ridder Newspapers made the observation in 1981, "The fact that the center has now shifted its allegiance from supporting the right to giving the left a chance is a welcome sign of strength and self-confidence in modern Greece's rebirth of the ancient Athenian demokratia." 

Insisting "we are not naughty schoolchildren," Yiannis Kapsis told the world in 1984, "We are the teachers. What we do today, Europe follows 2 years later." At the time, Gwynne Dyer of The Citizen in Ottawa remarked, "In foreign affairs, Andreas Papandreou continually promising one thing to its supporters while actually doing the opposite. Unemployment was practically unknown (in 1981); now (in 1984) it's over 10%. Inflation is over 20%, about 4 times what it is in most other Western countries. Exports have dropped despite an overall devaluation of the drachma by 64% since Papandreou's victory. The economy hasn't grown at all for 2 years, and real incomes are lower than in 1979. Private investment has fallen sharply, and 37,000 Greek businesses have gone bankrupt since 1981. 

"Pasok rode into office on a wave of xenophobic nationalism and to pull Greece out of both NATO and the European Common Market. In fact, Papandrerou has renewed the U.S. bases until at least 1989, and although he conducts a constant low-level insurgency inside both NATO and the Common Market, he shows no signs of actually leaving them. With the economy a shambles and all its promises broken, Pasok ought to be in deep troubles with its voters – and yet last October (in 1983), to celebrate 2 years in power, Papandreou addressed a crowd of half a million happy supporters in Constitution Square in central Athens.

"'Greece is today (in 1983) the pioneer in the struggle of the European peoples for d├ętente (easing of unfriendly relations between countries),' he told the throng, and they believed him. Evangelos Averoff, leader of the opposition New Democracy party said, 'Each time we sink a little more, we stage festivals and fiestas. We praise our achievements, and conjure up visions. In this way we cannot see how much worse off we really are, but we go on sinking and singing, exulting and cheering.' Much of the economic blight is due to the vindictive purge that was unleashed on the already swollen public service after Pasok's victory, in which merely incompetent officials were replaced by Pasok appointees who were inexperienced as well. But Papandreou blames all the economic failures on internal and external saboteurs: 'We stand firm,' he told the crowd in Constitution Square, 'the underminers shall not pass.'

"Mostly, Papandreou just tries not to discuss the economy. Instead, he involves the Greeks in a David-and-Goliath psychodrama in which gallant little Greece takes on and defeats all the huge and malevolent outside powers that have held it back for so long. If rhetoric were substance, Papandreou would be the greatest Greek statesman since Pericles. Greece's membership of the European Economic Community (EEC) brought it a net benefit of almost $1 billion last year (in 1983), and Papandreou no longer mentions his election promise of a referendum on leaving; Athens couldn't afford it. But in his recently completed 6-month term as EEC president, he vetoed a joint condemnation of the Soviet shooting down of the Korean airliner, refused to support the Western European position on Soviet and American missiles, and generally waged a guerrilla campaign against the consensus. 

"It was very popular at home, as is his pretence of defying NATO and throwing the U.S. bases out of Greece. Yet his supporters know perfectly well that it's all pantomime, because given Greece's fixed belief that the major threat to its security is Turkey, Athens cannot leave the field clear for the Turks within NATO. Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Kapis boldly proclaims, 'We reject all attempts to brand us as pro-East or pro-West. Greece remains in NATO only to protect its national interests.' But remain it does, and so do the American bases in Greece. In return Greece got $500 million in U.S. military credits, compared to $715 million for Turkey, thus preserving the 7-to-10 ration that Athens regards as vital to preserve the military balance in the Aegean. 

"'One would have to be deaf not to understand the message…It is an agreement for the removal of the bases, not their preservation,” insisted Papandreou about the extension of the U.S. lease on Greek bases last July (in 1984). But if you read the small print, the agreement only lapses after 1988 if one side or the other declares it invalid and there will be at least one election in Greece before then (in 1985). An election must be held some time in the next 20 months (between 1984 and 1985). Papandreou remains the undisputed master at massaging the Greek national ego, but he may need a new trick to get him across that hurdle...And the gimmick to whip up patriotic support? Finally breaking Greece's links with the West would probably be going too far, but a nice little crisis with Turkey over Cyprus could serve his purposes very well."

"The rest of the world might have disapproved of her new marriage," Carl Anthony reported, "but wherever she went in Greece, especially in Athens, (Jackie Onassis) encountered nothing but supportive approval."  In 1969, Jackie celebrated her 40th birthday. Ari hosted an all-night bash in an Athens nightclub. Carl recounted, "It lasted until 7 the next morning." Ari gave Jackie a pair of golden earrings depicting the Apollo 11 moon mission. The earrings were designed by Zolotas of Athens and consisted of a sapphire studded earth at the ear and a larger moon decorated with rubies hanging from a chain. The miniature Apollo spaceship was attached to a thin gold thread which circles the earth and dropped to the moon, representing the space trip. 

Carl continued, "Emerging into the daylight not only with the famous Apollo 11 jeweled earrings he gave her as a gift but also wearing a wild mod-patterned micro mini-skirt, Jackie Onassis wasn’t ready to head home with him. Instead, she decided to start walking through the city with Artemis, who led her into the streets of the ancient Monastiraki district. Here was not only the local food markets but also storefronts, carts and open-air stalls where native Greek wares from glass, pottery, clothes, and other items were sold by the hand-craftsmen who made them. As it would turn out, it would be a place to which Jackie Onassis would return many times over the years. It was one of her favorite haunts in Athens."

The Los Angeles Times reported in 1996, "Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' 40.4-carat diamond engagement ring from Aristotle Onassis sold for $2.58 million at Sotheby's auction as the frenzy to own a chunk of Camelot and Mrs. Onassis' possessions continued unabated. The diamond, the most expensive item in the auction catalog, had been valued at $600,000 by Sotheby's appraisers. It was bought by Albert and Felice Lippert, founders of Weight Watchers, on behalf of a 'dear friend' who was not identified. By the end of bidding, buyers had spent more than $20.8 million for items from Mrs. Onassis' estate, and there are still 2 days left in the auction. At this rate, the Onassis auction could compete with the $50-million record for an estate sale set in 1987 by Sotheby's when it sold the jewelry of Wallace Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor."

The 1996 Jackie's estate auction was described as a "celebration of fantasy over reality." Her gold and black enamel lighter was estimated at $300 to $400 but sold for $85,000. Sotheby's chief pointed out, "When we did the estimates there was no reflection of Mrs. Onassis in the estimates." Over 70,000 bidders bidded for 1,302 lots at 10 and 20 times more than the conservative presale estimates. One bidder conceded, "You take Jackie's name out of this and it's like any antique auction." Another bidder remarked, "There was nobody like the Kennedys. If this were Bess Truman's stuff being auctioned off, you wouldn't get nearly the excitement." For many, Jackie was "a familiar face to a lost generation". Couturier Oleg Cassini made the observation, "She was famous for her elusiveness, her shifting moods. She might be very warm one day and freeze you out the next; she did this to everyone, even to her closest friends."

Blog Archive