Greece Since 2015

Greece Since 2015

On August 11, 2015, the key points and conditions for the rescue program with a term of 3 years and a volume of around € 86 billion were defined in a memorandum of understanding between Greece and the donors. Greece had to accept numerous obligations (achieving budget surpluses, privatizations, administrative reforms, pension cuts, etc.). The Greek parliament approved the agreement with the creditors on August 14, 2015. Of the 297 MPs present, 222 voted yes, 64 voted no. There were 11 abstentions. Prime Minister Tsipras was again relied on the votes of the opposition, 42 SYRIZA MPs alone had voted no. On the same day, the finance ministers of the euro countries also gave their approval to the agreement. Against the background of the lack of support from the left wing of SYRIZA in parliament, A. Tsipras announced his resignation on August 20, 2015. The party-internal opponents of A. Tsipras’ course split off from SYRIZA under the name of People’s Unity (Laiki Enotita). Attempts to form a new government were unsuccessful. On August 27, 2015, President Pavlopoulos called therefore new elections for September 20, 2015. A transitional cabinet ruled from August 27, 2015. SYRIZA was able to clearly win the new elections with 35.5% of the vote and 145 seats. The second strongest force was the conservative New Democracy (ND) with 28.1% of the vote and 75 seats. The right-wing extremist “Golden Dawn” (XA) won 7.0% of the vote and 18 seats. A. Tsipras agreed with the Independent Greeks Party (ANEL), which won 3.7% of the vote and 10 seats, to form a new coalition. On September 21, 2015 A. Tsipras sworn in again as prime minister. In December 2015, parliament passed the budget for 2016 with a narrow government majority, which provided for massive savings in order to meet the requirements of international lenders for the third aid package. A reform package was also passed in mid-December 2015 with a narrow majority, including: involved a reorganization of the privatization fund and the reallocation of bad loans. The government thus fulfilled the requirements for the disbursement of a tranche from the euro rescue package in the amount of € 1 billion, which was made at the end of December 2015. A total of around € 26 billion had flowed from the 3rd rescue program by then. Against the planned implementation of the further reform steps agreed with the creditors (e.g. In May 2016, the unions protested with nationwide strikes and large-scale demonstrations. On 8 May 2016, the people’s assembly finally voted with the government majority for the first part of the controversial reform plans in order to meet the requirements for further aid measures. The vote was from z. Sometimes accompanied violent protests in front of parliament. With 153 votes out of 300, the MPs also passed the last part of the reform package on May 22nd, 2016 (including an emergency mechanism for further austerity measures if budget targets are not met). The Eurogroup and the IMF honored the resolutions and released a further € 10.3 billion on May 25, 2016. On July 22, 2016, parliament approved an amendment to the electoral law. This was, inter alia, the previous 50-vote bonus for the strongest party has been abolished, A. Tsipras with the intention of making the change effective at the next election. In order to obtain the release of further funds from the 3rd aid program, Greece agreed with the international donors after months of negotiations at the beginning of May on the implementation of further austerity measures. The unions responded with strikes and protest demonstrations. On May 18, 2017, the Greek parliament passed the new austerity package (including a pension cut of 18% and tax increases).

In addition to the debt and financial crisis, the rapidly growing influx of refugees (especially in connection with the civil war in Syria) had developed into a serious domestic political problem. The facilities for the reception and registration of refugees were brought to the limits of their capacities by the rapidly increasing influx of refugees. On the Greek islands in particular, despite emergency aid from the EU, the facilities were no longer able to accept and register refugees arriving from Turkey. Most of the refugees crossed over to mainland Greece and moved on to other EU countries via Macedonia. The Greek-Macedonian border area developed into a neuralgic point on the refugee route. After the tightening of the Macedonian border regime at the end of February / beginning of March 2016, there were crisis situations with protests and riots because thousands were unable to continue their flight. To deal with the refugee crisis, the EU signed an agreement with Turkey in March 2016. The government in Athens called on the EU several times over the course of the year to take away refugees from Greece or to provide greater financial support.

The austerity measures and reforms that international believers demanded from Greece for new loans bore fruit and the country left the international rescue package in August 2018. The consequence of the austerity policy, which Tsipras rejected in his 2015 election campaign, was a decline in prosperity for broad sections of the population and a fall in the government’s popularity. In January 2019, the coalition with the right-wing populist »Independent Greeks« ANEL failed in the agreement to rename Macedonia to Northern Mecedonia. SYRIZA’s losses in the EU, regional and local elections on May 26, 2019 prompted Tsipras to apply for early parliamentary elections. On July 7, 2019, the ND with the opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis strongest force with 39.9% of the votes (158 seats; 2015: 75 seats). The SYRIZA under the leadership of Tsipras lost with 31.5% of the vote (86 seats; 2015: 145 seats). Four other parties overcame the 3 percent hurdle and entered parliament: the social democratic party “Movement for Change” KINAL with 8.1%, the communist KKE with 5.3%, the right-wing populist “Greek Solution” with 3, 7%, the MeRA25 of the former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis with 3.4%. The election winner Kyriakos Mitsotakis was sworn into office on 8 July 2019. For the first time, voters aged 17 and over were allowed to vote. The turnout was low at 57.5%. On January 22nd, 2020 the Greek parliament elected with Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou the first woman to be head of state.

In terms of foreign policy, the Greek-Turkish conflict over Cyprus and the ongoing controversy over sovereign rights in the Aegean Sea have long put a strain on relations between the two states; Since 1998/99, especially 2002–03, both sides have tried to achieve reconciliation without any results. On July 31, 1992, Parliament approved the Maastricht Treaty on European Union. After the break-up of Yugoslavia, there was a conflict of interest with Macedonia, which had gained independence in 1991, which Greece – with a view to the Greek territory of the same name – accused of an attack on its territorial integrity. After Greece initially blocked the international recognition of Macedonia and issued a trade embargo against this state in February 1994 (despite protests by the EU), the relationship between the two parties eased under UN mediation (on September 13, 1995 agreement on the normalization of bilateral Relationships). Minority issues (especially the situation of the Greeks in southern Albania) and the hundreds of thousands of Albanians who had illegally come to Greece since 1990/91 led to temporary tensions with Albania; in March 1996 a Greek-Albanian treaty on friendship and cooperation was concluded. In February 2000, Greece, as a member of the Southeast European Cooperation Process (English abbreviation SEECP), was involved with five Balkan countries and Turkey in the signing of a Charter for Cooperation and Good Neighborhood in Bucharest. In close cooperation with the EU and the UN, Greece (as well as Bulgaria) supported Macedonia in the spring of 2001 with a view to maintaining its sovereignty and territorial integrity and, from 2003, the rapprochement between Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia.

Full member of the EC since 1981, Greece was granted membership of the Eurozone by the EU in June 2000 (from 2001); As of January 1, 2002, the drachma was replaced as a means of payment and the euro was introduced. On June 11, 2008, Parliament approved the Lisbon Treaty.

Heads of State in Greece

Greek kings and presidents from 1833
Bavarian dynasty
Otto 1833-1862
Danish dynasty
George I. 1863-1913
Constantine I. 1913-1917
Alexander 1917-1920
Constantine I. 1920-1922
George II 1922-1924
P. Konduriotis 1924-1926
T. Pangalos 1926
P. Konduriotis 1926-1929
A. Zaïmis 1929-1935
Danish Dynasty (Reinstatement)
George II 1935–1947 (1941–1946 in exile)
Paul 1947-1964
Constantine II 1964–1973 / 74 (in exile since 1967)
G. Papadopulos 1973
P. Gisikis 1973-1974
M. Stasinopulos 1974-1975
K. Tsatsos 1975-1980
K. Karamanlis 1980-1985
C. Sartzetakis 1985-1990
K. Karamanlis 1990-1995
K. Stephanopulos 1995-2005
K. Papulias 2005-2015
P. Pavlopoulos 2015-2020
E. Sakellaropoulou since 2020

Greece Since 2015