Constantine Mitsotakis

Constantine Mitsotakis

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Constantine Mitsotakis (born 18 October 1918), a Greek
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 politician, was born in Chania
Chania
Chaniá , , also transliterated Chania, Hania, and Xania, older form Chanea and Venetian Canea, Ottoman Turkish خانيه Hanya) is the second largest city of Crete and the capital of the Chania peripheral unit...

, Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

. He came from a political family: his father and grandfathers were members of parliament, and the great liberal leader Eleftherios Venizelos
Eleftherios Venizelos
Eleftherios Venizelos was an eminent Greek revolutionary, a prominent and illustrious statesman as well as a charismatic leader in the early 20th century. Elected several times as Prime Minister of Greece and served from 1910 to 1920 and from 1928 to 1932...

 was his uncle. He graduated in law and economics from the University of Athens.

Political background


He was elected to the Greek Parliament for the first time in 1946, standing for the Liberal Party
Liberal Party (Greece)
The Liberal Party was one of the major Greek political parties of the early 20th century.- History :Founded as the Xipoliton party in Crete , its early leaders were Kostis Mitsotakis and Eleftherios Venizelos...

 in his native prefecture of Chania
Chania
Chaniá , , also transliterated Chania, Hania, and Xania, older form Chanea and Venetian Canea, Ottoman Turkish خانيه Hanya) is the second largest city of Crete and the capital of the Chania peripheral unit...

, Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

. He followed most of the old Liberal Party into George Papandreou's Center Union
Center Union
The Centre Union was a Greek political party, created in 1961 by George Papandreou, senior.The party was elected to power in 1963, with Papandreou as Prime Minister...

 in 1961. But in 1965 he led a group of dissidents known as the "July apostates" or "apostasia
Apostasia
Apostasia may refer to:* Apostasia of 1965, a series of political events in Greece, which toppled the legally elected government of George Papandreou, senior* Apostasia orchid, a genus of primitive orchids , comprising 7 terrestrial species...

" 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
Greek legislative election, 1974
The first free elections since 1964 and after the end of the Greek military junta of 1967-1974 took place in Greece on November 17, 1974 during the metapolitefsi....

 he campaigned as an independent and failed to be elected to Parliament. He was re-elected in 1977
Greek legislative election, 1977
In the Greek legislative election, 1977, Prime Minister, Constantine Karamanlis, called for early elections. His party, New Democracy, suffered a significant loss of power, but, nevertheless, Karamanlis managed to secure an absolute majority in the Parliament. The big surprise was the success of...

 as founder-leader of the small Party of New Liberals
Party of New Liberals
The Party of New Liberals was a shortly lived liberal political party in Greece.The party was founded by Constantine Mitsotakis in 1977. It took part in only one election, that of 1977, where it obtained 1.08% of the vote and two seats in the Hellenic Parliament .The New Liberals merged into the...

 and in 1978 he merged his party with Constantine Karamanlis
Constantine Karamanlis
Konstantínos G. Karamanlís , commonly anglicised to Constantine Karamanlis or Caramanlis, was a four-time Prime Minister, the 3rd and 5th President of the Third Hellenic Republic and a towering figure of Greek politics whose political career spanned much of the latter half of the 20th century.-...

's New Democracy
New Democracy (Greece)
New Democracy is the main centre-right political party and one of the two major parties in Greece. It was founded in 1974 by Konstantinos Karamanlis and formed the first cabinet of the Third Hellenic Republic...

 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
Andreas Papandreou
Andreas G. Papandreou ; 5 February 1919 – 23 June 1996) was a Greek economist, a socialist politician and a dominant figure in Greek politics. The son of Georgios Papandreou, Andreas was a Harvard-trained academic...

's PASOK
Panhellenic Socialist Movement
The Panhellenic Socialist Movement , known mostly by its acronym PASOK , is one of the two major political parties in Greece. Founded on 3 September 1974 by Andreas Papandreou, in 1981 PASOK became Greece's first social democratic party to win a majority in parliament.The party is a socialist party...

 in 1981
Greek legislative election, 1981
The Greek legislative election held on 18 October 1981 marked a new era in the modern history of Greece.Panhellenic Socialist Movement , led by Andreas Papandreou, faced New Democracy, led by Georgios Rallis. Papandreou achieved a landslide and PASOK formed the first socialistic government in the...

, and in 1984 Mitsotakis succeeded Evangelos Averoff
Evangelos Averoff
Evangelos Averoff-Tositsas was a distinguished right-wing Greek politician of Aromanian origin and author of several books on political and historical topics....

 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
Bank of Crete
Following the departure of the Ottoman forces in December 1898, the Cretan government under Eleftherios Venizelos established the Bank of Crete with the assistance of the National Bank of Greece. The bank received the exclusive privilege, for thirty years, of issuing banknotes in the island of...

 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
Court of Cassation (Greece)
The Court of Cassation is the Supreme Court of Greece for civil and criminal law. The Court of Cassation's decisions are irrevocable. If the Court of Cassation concludes that a lower court violated the law or the principles of the procedure, then it can order the rehearing of the case by the lower...

 president Yiannis Grivas
Yiannis Grivas
Ioannis Grivas , usually referred to as Yannis Grivas , , Greek judge, was the 87th Prime Minister of Greece who served as a non-party interim Prime Minister. Grivas was born in Kato Tithorea, Tithorea, Phthiotis in the region of Lokris. He studied law at the University of Athens and in 1954 he...

 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
Greek legislative election, 1990
Legislative elections were held in the Hellenic Republic on 8 April 1990. At stake were 300 seats in the Greek parliament, the Voule.The conservative New Democracy party of Constantine Mitsotakis, was elected, defeating the Panhellenic Socialist Movement of Andreas Papandreou. rowspan=2 colspan=2...

 produced another landslide ND victory, but left Mitsotakis unable to govern alone. After the lone MP from Democratic Renewal
Democratic Renewal
Democratic Renewal was a Greek political party founded by Konstantinos Stephanopoulos on September 6, 1985. It continued to exist until June 1994....

 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
Privatization
Privatization is the incidence or process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency or public service from the public sector to the private sector or to private non-profit organizations...

 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
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, but made progress on Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 a prerequisite for improvement on other issues.

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
Macedonia naming dispute
A diplomatic dispute over the use of the name Macedonia has been an ongoing issue in the bilateral relations between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia since the latter became independent from former Yugoslavia in 1991...

 with the newly independent former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

, 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
Antonis Samaras
Antonis Samaras is a Greek economist and politician who has been leader of New Democracy, Greece's major conservative party and main opposition party, since 2009. A Member of Parliament for Messenia, he was Minister of Finance in 1989, then Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1989 to 1990 and again...

, to withdraw their support from Mitsotakis's government and form a new political party, Political Spring
Political Spring
Political Spring is a former Greek conservative political party founded in June 1993 by Antonis Samaras. The party was formed after Antonis Samaras broke away from the New Democracy after being dismissed as Foreign Minister over the Macedonian question....

 (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. His son, Kyriakos Mitsotakis
Kyriakos Mitsotakis
Kyriakos Mitsotakis Kyriakos Mitsotakis Kyriakos Mitsotakis (born 4 March 1968 is a Greek politician with New Democracy.Born in Athens, he is the son of the former Greek prime minister and honorary president of the New Democracy political party, Konstantinos Mitsotakis, and Marika Giannoukou....

, is an ND Member of Parliament and his daughter, Dora Bakoyannis
Dora Bakoyannis
Dora Bakoyannis , born Theodora Mitsotaki , is a Greek politician. From 2006 to 2009 she was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, the highest position ever held by a woman in the Cabinet of Greece; she was also Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in...

, also a ND 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
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

 and other Cretan antiquities, which he has now donated to the Greek state.

On 9 January 2007, Mitsotakis had a double bypass surgery
Coronary artery bypass surgery
Coronary artery bypass surgery, also coronary artery bypass graft surgery, and colloquially heart bypass or bypass surgery is a surgical procedure performed to relieve angina and reduce the risk of death from coronary artery disease...

 at Onassio Heart Center in Athens.

Honours

  • On 6 January 1992, he was appointed an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia
    Order of Australia
    The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established on 14 February 1975 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, "for the purpose of according recognition to Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service"...

     (AC), Australia's highest civilian honour, "for eminent service to Australian/Greek relations".

External links