Constantine Mitsotakis

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Constantine Mitsotakis
Κωνσταντίνος Μητσοτάκης
Mitsotakis 1992.jpg
Prime Minister of Greece
In office
11 April 1990 – 13 October 1993
President Christos Sartzetakis
Konstantinos Karamanlis
Preceded by Xenophon Zolotas
Succeeded by Andreas Papandreou
Minister of the Aegean
In office
8 August 1991 – 13 October 1993
Preceded by George Misailidis
Succeeded by Kostas Skandalidis
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
10 May 1980 – 21 October 1981
Preceded by George Rallis
Succeeded by Ioannis Charalambopoulos
In office
14 April 1992 – 7 August 1992
Preceded by Antonis Samaras
Succeeded by Michalis Papakonstantinou
Minister of Coordination
In office
17 September 1965 – 22 December 1966
Preceded by Dimitrios Papaspirou
Succeeded by Ioannis Paraskevopoulos
In office
10 May 1978 – 10 May 1980
Preceded by George Rallis
Succeeded by Ioannis Boutos
Personal details
Born (1918-10-18) 18 October 1918 (age 97)
Chalepa village, Chania, Crete, Greece
Nationality Greek
Political party Liberal (1946–1961)
Center Union (1961–1974)
Independent (1974–1977)
New Liberal (1977–1978)
New Democracy (1978–present)
Spouse(s) Marika Mitsotakis (1953-2012)
Children Kyriakos, Dora, Alexandra, Katerina
Alma mater National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Occupation Politician
Profession Lawyer
Religion Greek Orthodox

Constantine Mitsotakis (Greek: Κωνσταντίνος Μητσοτάκης Konstantinos Mitsotakis; born 31 October [O.S. 18 October] 1918), is a Greek politician and former Prime Minister of Greece. He was born in Chalepa village, Chania, Crete, to a political family. His father and grandfathers were members of parliament and it is claimed that the eminent leader Eleftherios Venizelos was his uncle.[citation needed] He graduated in law and economics from the University of Athens.

Personal life[edit]

He was married to Marika Mitsotakis (née Giannoukou) from 1953 until her death on 6 May 2012.[1][2] They had four children.[2] His son, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is an ND Member of Parliament. His daughter, Dora Bakoyannis, founder and president of Dimokratiki Symmachia party and Member of Parliament, was the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2009.

Mitsotakis's main interest outside politics is Cretan antiquities. He developed a large collection of Minoan and other Cretan antiquities, which he has now donated to the Greek state. On 9 January 2007, Mitsotakis had a double bypass surgery at Onassio Heart Center in Athens.

Political background[edit]

He was elected to the Greek Parliament for the first time in 1946, standing for the Liberal Party in his native prefecture of Chania, Crete. He followed most of the old Liberal Party into George Papandreou's Center Union in 1961. But in 1965 he led a group of dissidents, known as the "July apostates" or "apostasia", who crossed the floor to bring about the fall of Papandreou's government, which earned him the undying hatred of Papandreou loyalists as well as a significant part of Greek society. He was arrested in 1967 by the military junta but managed to escape to Turkey with a help of current Turkish foreign secretary Ihsan Sabri Caglayangil and lived in exile until his return in 1974.

In 1974 he campaigned as an independent and failed to be elected to Parliament. He was re-elected in 1977 as founder-leader of the small Party of New Liberals and in 1978 he merged his party with Constantine Karamanlis's New Democracy party. He served as minister for economic coordination from 1978 to 1980, and as minister for foreign affairs from 1980 to 1981.

The ND (New Democracy) government was defeated by Andreas Papandreou's PASOK in 1981, and in 1984 Mitsotakis succeeded Evangelos Averoff as ND leader. He and Andreas Papandreou, the son of George Papandreou, dominated Greek politics for the next decade: their mutual dislike dated back to the fall of George Papandreou's government in 1965.

Mitsotakis soundly defeated Papandreou, embroiled in the Bank of Crete scandal, in the June 1989 election. PASOK lost 36 seats in one of the largest defeats of a sitting government in modern Greek history. However, in a controversial move, Papandreou's government had modified the election system a few months earlier to require a party to win 50 percent of the vote in order to govern alone. Thus, Mitsotakis was unable to form a government even though ND was the clear first-place party, with 20 more seats than PASOK. He was unable to garner support from the six MPs he needed to form a government, so Court of Cassation president Yiannis Grivas became acting prime minister and presided over new elections in November 1989. This election yielded the same result as in June. ND finished 20 seats ahead of PASOK, but was still just short of forming a government.

After another period of deadlock, fresh elections in April 1990 produced another landslide ND victory, but left Mitsotakis unable to govern alone. After the lone MP from Democratic Renewal agreed to go into coalition, Mitsotakis finally became Prime Minister. Thus, despite winning one of the most decisive victories in modern Greek history (27 seats ahead of PASOK), Mitsotakis' government was very weak on paper, with a majority of only one vote.

Mitsotakis's government moved swiftly to cut government spending as much as possible, privatise state enterprises and reform the civil service. In foreign policy, Mitsotakis moved to reopen talks on American bases in Greece and to restore confidence among Greece's economic and political partners. In June 1990, Mitsotakis became the first Greek premier to visit the United States in 26 years. He promised to meet Greece's NATO obligations, to prevent use of Greece as a base for terrorism, and to stop the rhetorical attacks on the United States that had been Papandreou's hallmark. Mitsotakis also supported a new dialogue with Turkey, but made progress on Cyprus a prerequisite for improvement on other issues.

Mitsotakis in 2008.

Papandreou, cleared of charges arising from the Bank of Crete scandal in a 7–6 vote at the Eidiko Dikastirio (Special Court), criticised Mitsotakis's government for its economic policies, for not taking a sufficiently strict position over the naming dispute with the newly independent former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as over Cyprus, and for being too pro-American. The heightened public irritation over the Macedonia issue caused several ND parliament members, led by Antonis Samaras, to withdraw their support from Mitsotakis's government and form a new political party, Political Spring (Politiki Anoiksi). Mitsotakis's government had already restored the election system back to its original form, which allowed Papandreou's PASOK to obtain clear parliamentary majority after winning the premature 1993 elections and return to office. Mitsotakis then resigned as ND leader, although he remained the party's honorary chairman.

In January 2004 Mitsotakis announced that he would retire from Parliament at the 7 March election, 56 years after his first election.


  • On 6 January 1992, he was appointed an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), at the time Australia's highest civilian honour, "for eminent service to Australian/Greek relations".[3]


  1. ^ Papapostolou, Anastasios (2012-05-06). "Former First Lady of Greece Marika Mitsotakis Dies at 82". Greek Reporter. Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
  2. ^ a b Papapostolou, Anastasios (2012-05-06). "Marika Mitsotakis, wife of former Greek PM, dies Dies at 82". Associated Press ( Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
  3. ^ It's an Honour: AC

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
George Rallis
Minister for Foreign Affairs
1980 – 1981
Succeeded by
Ioannis Charalambopoulos
Preceded by
Xenophon Zolotas
Prime Minister of Greece
1990 – 1993
Succeeded by
Andreas Papandreou
Preceded by
Antonis Samaras
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Michalis Papakonstantinou
Party political offices
Preceded by
Evangelos Averoff
President of New Democracy
1984 – 1993
Succeeded by
Miltiadis Evert