Hellenic Republic

History of the Hellenic Republic

The history of the Hellenic Republic constitutes three discrete republican periods in modern Greek History: 1822 - 1832, 1924 - 1935 and 1974 - present.

The First Hellenic Republic

The First Hellenic Republic is the term used for a series of councils and "Provisional Governments" during the Greek War of Independence. In the first stages of the uprising, various areas elected their own regional governing councils. These were replaced by central administration at the First National Assembly of Epidaurus in early 1822, which also adopted the first Greek Constitution. A series of National Assemblies followed, while Greece was threatened with collapse due to civil war and the victories of Ibrahim Pasha. In 1827, the Third National Assembly at Troezen selected Count Ioannis Capodistrias as Governor of Greece for seven years. He arrived in 1828 and established the Hellenic State, ruling with quasi-dictatorial powers. He was assassinated by political rivals in 1831 and was succeeded by his brother, Augustinos Kapodistrias until the Great Powers declared Greece a Kingdom and selected the Bavarian Prince Otto to be its king.

The Second Hellenic Republic

The Second Hellenic Republic was declared on March 25, 1924 after the defeat of Greece by Turkey in the Asia Minor Disaster of 1922 and the subsequent exile and death of King Constantine I in 1923. The king and his political nemesis, Eleftherios Venizelos, had struggled over control of the country from 1915 to his death and the country was sorely divided (see National Schism). King Constantine was succeeded by his son, King George II, who was asked by the parliament to leave Greece so the nation could decide what form of government it should adopt, ultimately selecting a Republic.

The first President of the Hellenic Republic was Pavlos Kountouriotis, an Admiral and supporter of Venizelos who resigned after a coup d'etat in 1925. He was succeeded by the coup's leader General Theodoros Pangalos, who was likewise deposed by the military 5 months later after embroiling Greece in the War of the Stray Dog. Kountouriotis was reinstated and reelected to the office in 1929, but was forced to resign for health reasons later that year. He was succeeded by Alexandros Zaimis, who served until the restoration of monarchy in 1935.

Despite a period of stability and relative prosperity under the last government of Eleftherios Venizelos in 1928-1932, the effects of the Great Depression were severely felt, and political instability returned. As the prospect of the return of the monarchy became evident, Venizelist officers launched a coup in March 1935, which was suppressed by General Georgios Kondylis. On October 10 1935, the chiefs of the Armed Forces overthrew the government of Panagis Tsaldaris, and Kondylis declared himself Regent. He abolished the Republic and staged a plebiscite on 11 November which resulted in return of the monarchy, in the person of King George II.

The Third Hellenic Republic

The current Third Hellenic Republic was declared in 1974 during the period of metapolitefsi after the end of the Regime of the Colonels which had controlled Greece after the April 21, 1967 coup.

The Junta had already held a staged plebiscite to abolish the monarchy on 29 July 1973, and passed a new Constitution which established a presidential republic (with the junta principal Georgios Papadopoulos as President). This short-lived attempt at controlled democratization was ended by Brigadier Dimitrios Ioannides' overthrow of Papadopoulos in November 1973. The Republic was maintained, but was nothing more than a façade for the military regime.

After the fall of the regime and the return to civilian rule in August 1974 however, the legal and constitutional acts of the junta were deemed invalid, and a new plebiscite was held on December 13, 1974, which finally abolished the monarchy. A new Constitution was adopted that declared Greece a parliamentary democracy. This constitution, revised in 1985 and 2001, is still in force today.

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