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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Modern Implications of a 1970s Military Regime: The Case of Greece

  • Author(s): Parmeter, Nathan
  • et al.

Polity IV is a score-based analysis by the Center for Systemic Peace that rates individual countries by regime type going back to the 1940s and changes based on political events (e.g. Coup d’états) (“Polity IV Individual” 2014). According to the latest report, Greece is considered a full democracy although the country has gone through several regime changes (“Polity IV Regime” 2014). From the end of World War II to 1967, Greece was considered a partial democracy by Polity IV (“Polity IV Regime” 2014), possibly due to the repression of left-wing political parties and their supporters within Greek politics and society (Diamandouros 59). In 1967, the Greek military took power in a coup d’état, joining Spain and Portugal as authoritarian states in Southern Europe (Prindham 6). The junta ruled for seven years and would only fall due to the dispute with Turkey over Cyprus and a subsequent military invasion that failed (4). Following the end of the military junta, Greece underwent a regime transition in which democratic institutions were introduced and the existing system significantly reformed to reduce tensions within Greece (Diamandouros 52-53). At the same time, Spain and Portugal were also shedding their autocratic regimes and moving towards democracy, which has led scholars to combine the three cases as a unique wave of democracy among several in the last fifty years (Prindham 1). This paper will explore the Greek transition to democracy in the 1970s and test theories regarding the role of nationalism in helping or hurting democracy and to what extent it is still a problem for Greece to this day. I will exclude Greece from the cases of Portugal and Spain due to Greek nationalism and the role it has had in the Greek political system through disputes with Greece’s neighbor Turkey. In addition, the relative timespan of Greece’s authoritarian regime compared to its counterparts in the region will be examined as a key distinction between Greece and other Mediterranean military regimes.

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