Georgios Papandreou

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For his grandson and former Prime Minister of Greece, see George Papandreou.
Georgios Papandreou
Γεώργιος Παπανδρέου
Γεώργιος Α. Παπανδρέου 1.jpg
Georgios Papandreou
Prime Minister of Greece
In office
19 February 1964 – 15 July 1965
Monarch Paul
Constantine II
Preceded by Ioannis Paraskevopoulos
Succeeded by Georgios Athanasiadis-Novas
In office
8 November 1963 – 30 December 1963
Monarch Paul
Preceded by Stylianos Mavromichalis
Succeeded by Ioannis Paraskevopoulos
In office
26 April 1944 – 3 January 1945
Monarch George II
Preceded by Sofoklis Venizelos
Succeeded by Nikolaos Plastiras
Personal details
Born 13 February 1888
Kalentzi, Achaea, Greece
Died 1 November 1968(1968-11-01) (aged 80)
Athens, Greece
Nationality Greek
Political party Centre Union
Spouse(s) Sofia Mineyko
Cybele Andrianou
Children Andreas Papandreou
Georgios G. Papandreou
Religion Greek Orthodox

Georgios Papandreou (Greek: Γεώργιος Παπανδρέου Geórgios Papandréou; 13 February 1888 in Kalentzi – 1 November 1968 in Athens[1]) was a Greek politician, the founder of the Papandreou political dynasty. He served three terms as Prime Minister of Greece (1944–1945, 1963, 1964–1965). He was also Deputy Prime Minister from 1950–1952, in the governments of Nikolaos Plastiras and Sofoklis Venizelos and served numerous times as a Cabinet Minister, starting in 1923, in a political career that spanned more than five decades.

Early life[edit]

He was born at Kalentzi, in Achaea in West Greece.[1] He was the son of Father Andreas, an Orthodox archpriest (protopresvyteros). He studied Law in Athens and Political Science in Berlin. His political philosophy was heavily influenced by German social democracy. As a result, he was adamantly opposed to the monarchy and supported generous social policies, but he was also extremely anti-communist (and specifically against the KKE's policies in Greece). As a young man, he became involved in politics as a supporter of the Liberal leader Eleftherios Venizelos, who made him Governor of Chios after the Balkan War of 1912. He married twice. His first wife was Sofia Mineyko, a Polish national, and their son Andreas Papandreou was born in Chios in 1919. The second wife was the actress Cybele Andrianou. They had a son Georgios G. Papandreou.

Political career[edit]

During the political crisis surrounding Greece's entry into World War I, Papandreou was one of Venizelos's closest supporters against the pro-German King Constantine I. When Venizelos was forced to flee Athens, Papandreou accompanied him to Crete, and then went to Lesbos, where he mobilised anti-monarchist supporters in the islands and rallied support for Venizelos's insurgent pro-British government in Thessaloniki. In 1921 he narrowly escaped assassination from royalist extremists.

The leadership of the 1922 Revolution, Colonels Plastiras and Gonatas, with their political advisor, Georgios Papandreou senior (left).
Georgios Papandreou and others on the Acropolis after the liberation from the Axis powers.

Papandreou served as a Venizelist Member of Parliament beginning in 1920, as Interior Minister in 1923, Finance Minister in 1924-1925, Education Minister in 1929-1932, and Transport Minister in 1933. As Minister of Education he reformed the Greek school system and built many schools for the children of refugees of the Greco-Turkish War (1919–22). In 1935, he set up the Democratic Socialist Party of Greece. A lifelong opponent of the Greek monarchy, he was exiled in 1936 by the Greek royalist dictator Ioannis Metaxas. Following the Axis occupation of Greece in World War II, he joined the predominantly Venizelist government-in-exile based in Egypt. With the British support, King George II appointed him as PM and under his premiership took place the Lebanon conference (May 1944) and later the Caserta agreement (September 1944), in an attempt to stop the crisis in Greece and the conflicts between EAM and non-EAM forces, a prelude of the civil war. After the liberation of Greece, he entered Athens (October 1944) as PM of the Greek government-in-exile. Although he resigned in 1945, after the Dekemvriana events, he continued to hold high office. From 1946-1952 he served as Labor Minister, Supplies Minister, Education Minister, Finance Minister and Public Order Minister. In 1950-1952, he was also Deputy Prime Minister.

The 1952-1961 period was a very difficult one for Papandreou. The liberal political forces in Greece were gravely weakened by internal disputes and suffered electoral defeat from the conservatives. Papandreou continuously accused Sofoklis Venizelos for these maladies, considering his leadership dour and uninspiring. In 1961, Papandreou revived Greek liberalism by founding the Center Union Party, a confederation of old liberal Venizelists and dissatisfied conservatives. After the elections of "violence and fraud" of 1961, Papandreou declared a "Relentless Struggle" against the right-wing ERE. His party won the elections of November 1963 and those of 1964, the second with a landslide majority. His progressive policies as premier aroused much opposition in conservative circles, as did the prominent role played by his son Andreas Papandreou, whose policies were seen as being considerably left of center. Andreas disagreed with his father on many important issues, and developed a network of political organizations, the Democratic Leagues (Dimokratikoi Syndesmoi) to lobby for more progressive policies. He also managed to take control of the Center Union's youth organization, EDIN.

He opposed the Zürich and London Agreement which led to the foundation of the Republic of Cyprus. Following clashes between the Greek and Turkish communities, his government sent a Greek army division to the island.

King Constantine II openly opposed Papandreou's government and there were frequent ultra-rightist plots in the Army which destabilised the government. Finally the King engineered a split in the Centre Union and in July 1965, known as apostasia or Iouliana he dismissed the government following a dispute over control of the Ministry of Defence. After the April 1967 military coup by the Colonels' junta led by George Papadopoulos, Papandreou was arrested. Papandreou died under house arrest in November 1968. His funeral became the occasion for a massive anti-dictatorship demonstration. He is interred at the First Cemetery of Athens, alongside his son Andreas.

Georgios Papandreou with Nikolaos Plastiras and Gendarmerie officers, 1950

During the Junta and after his death he was often referred to affectionately as "ο Γέρος της δημοκρατίας" (o Géros tis dimokratíasthe old man of democracy). Since his grandson George A. Papandreou entered politics, most Greek writers use Γεώργιος (Geórgios) to refer to the grandfather and the less formal Γιώργος (Giórgos) to refer to the grandson.

In 1965, the University of Belgrade awarded him an honorary doctorate.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Sofoklis Venizelos
Prime Minister of Greece
1944–1945
Succeeded by
Nikolaos Plastiras
Preceded by
Stylianos Mavromichalis
Prime Minister of Greece
1963
Succeeded by
Ioannis Paraskevopoulos
Preceded by
Ioannis Paraskevopoulos
Prime Minister of Greece
1963–1965
Succeeded by
Georgios Athanasiadis-Novas