Greek legislative election, 1956
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Parliamentary elections were held in Greece on 19 February 1956. The result was a victory for Constantine Karamanlis and his National Radical Union party by securing the electoral vote despite trailing in the popular vote. It was the first general election in Greece in which women had the right to vote, although women had first voted in a by-election in Thessaloniki Prefecture in 1953 in which the first female MP was elected.
Although the Liberal Democratic Union received the most votes, the National Radical Union won the most seats due to a complex and controversial electoral system, enacted by Karamanlis. A "first past the post" system was applied in the rural constituencies where the National Radical Union was expected to gain a plurality, while proportional representation was reserved for the urban constituencies, where the Liberal Democratic Union coalition party was expected to lead. As a result, the Liberal Democratic Union coalition party lost the election, in spite of getting a slim plurality of votes.
The Liberal Democratic Union included the Centrists led by Georgios Papandreou, the Liberal Party, led by Sophoklis Venizelos and the left-wing EDA, led by Ioannis Passalidis. A few years later, Georgios Papandreou and Sophoklis Venizelos renounced their alliance with EDA, breaking up the Liberal Democratic Union .
In 1955, Karamanlis was chosen by the King Paul I as successor of prime minister General Alexandros Papagos, who had just died. The decision was controversial, as Karamanlis was not a leading member of Papagos' party, and caused the vehement reactions of the party's two most prominent members, Stefanos Stefanopoulos and Panagiotis Kanellopoulos.
Nevertheless, Karamanlis, thanks to the support of the royal family and his own dextrous handlings, managed to establish himself as a strong leader. After stabilizing his leadership, he dissolved the Greek Rally party and created his own conservative right-wing party, the National Radical Union, which also comprised some prominent centrists (Evangelos Averoff, Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, Konstantinos Tsatsos) and went on to dominate the Greek political scene for the next 8 years.
|Liberal Democratic Union||1,620,007||48.2||132|
|National Radical Union||1,594,112||47.4||165|
|List of Independents||31,002||0.9||2|
|Popular Social Party||29,375||0.9||0|
|Source: Nohlen & Stöver|
- Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p830 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
- Eleftheria Newspaper, 22 May 2007, article on the history of election laws (in Greek)
- "Το Βήμα" newspaper, 12 Nov 2000, "Δημοκρατία Διάτρητη" (In Greek)