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53 3 • Greece between 1922 and 1974 From the National Schism to the Collapse of the Junta From its independence until the 1970s, Greece was politically an unstable country, experiencing several coups, unconsolidated democratic periods, authoritarian episodes, and a civil war. In this chapter, I will investigate the odyssey of Greece toward the consolidated democracy established in the wake of the colonels’ junta. More specifically, utilizing the theory put forward in chapter 2, I will examine three regimes in Greece: the unconsolidated democracy and the coups of the interwar years, the consolidated Metaxas regime of 1936, and the unconsolidated colonels’ junta. The Birth of the Greek State and the Unconsolidated Democracy of 19th-­ Century Greece Greeks began to fight for their independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821. By 1830, they had become recognized as an independent state by the European powers.1 At that time, the Greek territories included areas roughly corresponding to today’s regions of central and western Greece and several Aegean islands. Greece gradually increased its territories—­ annexing the peripheries of Thessaly in 1881; Macedonia, Epirus, and Crete in 1913; and Thrace in 1920. King Otho and the Bavarian regency ruled Greece without an elected government for 10 years. However, a set of reforms between 1843 and 1875 established an unconsolidated democratic regime in Greece. Greece inherited from its past a disunited elite, which included four different groups with diverse interests and power bases.2 The first group, the Phanariots , was located in Istanbul and included the Orthodox Church officials, as well as the Greek Ottoman administrators who served as diplomats, governors of the Aegean islands, and princes of Moldavia and Wallachia. The second elite 54 • Between Military Rule and Democracy faction consisted of the local notables and primates who functioned as tax collectors and administrators within the Ottoman system of governance and thereby accumulated considerable local power and wealth.3 The third group was made up of military men who served both the primates and the Ottoman center but sometimes also engaged in robbery and raids. This faction formed the core of the disorganized military of Greece during the War of Independence . The final group consisted of the Greek merchants spread throughout the Mediterranean, Balkans, Europe, and southern Russia. It also included tradesmen from three islands in the Aegean (Hydra, Spetses, and Psara), who ownedhalfoftheshipsoftheGreekmerchantfleetandplayedinfluentialroles in the war, especially in the maritime battles.4 During the Greek War of Independence, these elites, called the tzakia, came into conflict with each other over who would lead the war. The conflict among the groups continued after independence was gained; additionally, the newly established Greek state challenged their powers.5 Despite formidable opposition from the tzakia, among the achievements of the first rulers of Greece was the creation of the regular army, which recruited from elite families and represented their interests until the military formed its own esprit de corps.6 The overlap of military and politicians’ interests led the military in Athens and the elites of the three political parties to stage a coup and pressure the king to agree to a constitutional monarchy in 1843. A bicameral assembly was created, but the powers to appoint and dismiss the government and to close the assembly were still given to the king.7 In 1862, after another revolt of the Athens garrison, King Otho was deposed and replaced by King George, from the Danish Glucksburg dynasty. In 1864, the new king ratified a constitution that granted universal male suffrage and popular sovereignty.8 At the end of the 19th century, military officers started to detach themselves from the political elites and to develop a separate identity as professional soldiers, increasingly concerned with the interests of the military institution . This development took place mainly because of the strengthening of the armed forces in response to competition from the Balkan neighbors and during the gradual transformation of Greece into a modern nation-­ state.9 Direct involvement of the monarchy and the crown prince in the armed forces led to the first autonomous coup of the Greek military in August 1909. The defeat of the Greek military by the Ottoman Empire in 1897 was a grievance , and the crown was seen as responsible for it.10 The armed forces were expected to realize the “Great Idea,” which encompassed the vision of bringing together all the Greek-­ speaking peoples who lived under Ottoman rule in Asia Minor, Macedonia, Thrace, and the islands. This expansionist policy Greece between 1922 and 1974 • 55 required...


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