Greek republic referendum, 1974

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A referendum on retaining the republic was held in Greece on 8 December 1974.[1] After the collapse of the military junta that ruled the country from 1967, the issue of the form of government remained unsolved. The Junta had already staged a plebiscite the year before, which resulted in the establishment of the Republic. However, after the fall of the military regime, the new government, under Constantine Karamanlis, decided to hold another one, as Junta legal acts were considered illegal. Constantine II, the former King, was banned by the new government from returning to Greece to campaign in the referendum, but the Karamanlis government allowed him to make a televised address to the nation.[2] The proposal was approved by 69.2% of voters with a turnout of 75.6%.[3]

Campaign[edit]

The referendum campaign included television debates in which Constantine himself took part on the monarchist side, whilst those debating in favour of a republic included Marios Ploritis, Leonidas Kyrkos, Phaedon Vegleris, George Koumandos, Alexandros Panagoulis and Costas Simitis, who later served as Prime Minister.

Political parties abstained from taking part in the referendum campaign, with the television debates confined to ordinary citizens who represented one side or the other. On 23 November 1974 Prime Minister Karamanlis requested that his parliamentary party group adopt a neutral stance on the issue. Two televised speeches a week were given to each side, with an additional two messages broadcast by the former king; a radio broadcast on 26 November and a television speech on 6 December.

Results[edit]

On the day of the referendum, the electorate voted categorically in favour of republic. Crete gave more than 90% of its vote for a republic, whilst in around thirty constituencies the result for republic was around 60–70%. The biggest wins for monarchy were in Peloponnisos and Thrace, with around 45%. The constituencies with the highest votes for a monarchy were Laconia at 59.52%, Rhodope at 50.54%, Messenia with 49.24%, Elis at 46.88% and Argos at 46.67%.

Choice Votes %
For 3,245,111 69.2
Against 1,445,875 30.8
Invalid/blank votes 28,801
Total 4,719,787 100
Registered voters/turnout 6,244,539 75.6
Source: Nohlen & Stöver

Aftermath[edit]

With the announcement of the results, Karamanlis said that "a cancer has been removed from the body of the nation today." On 15 December 1974 incumbent President, Phaedon Gizikis, submitted his resignation and Karamanlis thanked him with a personal visit and in writing for his services to the country. On 18 December, Michail Stasinopoulos, a state list MP for New Democracy was elected and sworn in as temporary President of Greece.

In February 1988, Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis stated in an interview given in London that, although he was a republican, the manner in which the referendum was carried out was "unfair." The statement attracted wide criticism in Greece at the time and continues to be debated in the media to the present day.

In April 2007 the newspaper To Vima carried out a survey in which only 11.6% of those polled wished for Greece to become a monarchy again.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p830 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ Hope, Kevin. Referendum plan faces hurdles. Financial Times 1 November 2011.
  3. ^ Nohlen & Stöver, p838