July 1, 1989

1 July 1989: After languishing in the opposition for eight years, the right stages a strong comeback at the polls but is forced into a frail cohabitation in power with the left at the exclusion of the socialists. Constantine Mitsotakis led the conservative New Democracy party victory on June 18, in the first of three consecutive parliamentary elections held within 10 months, before he could finally form a government in April 1990, which lasted only three years. ND won all three ballots with a high percentage of the popular vote (44-47 percent) and a substantial margin (5-7 percent) against its main opponent, Pasok. In the spring of

1989, the socialists saw their eight-year rule crumble under the weight of a major political­economic scandal and uncertainty over the faltering health of their leader and hitherto prime minister, Andreas Papandreou. Nevertheless, proportional representation denied the resurgent right a workable majority in parliament after its first electoral triumph in June. At the same time, the urgency of carrying out its pledge for a 'catharsis' - purge - of a scandal-ridden political landscape forced Mitsotakis into an unprecedented tight-left coalition government under ND veteran Tzannis Tzannetakis (R) on July 1st. The bipartisan cabinet, which only included ND and Left Coalition cadres at the exclusion of Pasok politicians, lasted long enough to impeach Papandreou and four of his ministers. The latter were ordered in late September to stand trial before a Special High Court on corruption charges arising from their alleged involvement in the Bank of Crete embezzlement scandal. The Tzannetakis government resigned on October 7 to pave the way for another fruitless election victory for Mitsotakis' party on November 5, which led to the formation of a new coalition government headed by veteran economist and former central banker, Xenophon Zolotas (L)

Dimitris Yannopoulos

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(Posting date 8 July 2006 )

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