The history of Greece in election slogans

In the past, people would flock to the squares to make a passionate demonstration of their political convictions. Today, they crowd the screens of televised, virtual reality. Over the past 30 years, since the junta fell, politics has moved far from megaphones, leaflets and the posters splashed all over the place to enter the world of opinion polls, televised electoral campaigns and debates. The slogans spawned by people at adrenalin-filled rallies and which were in keeping with the political pulse of the time have given way to the manufactured products of political offices and spin doctors. But a slogan can still pithily sum up the essence of every pre-election period – whether it’s expressed spontaneously by crowds or skillfully put together by the eavesdroppers on public sentiment. November 1974: This was a time when people flooded the streets, when politicization was at its peak, when a people that had been oppressed for years dreamt of fulfilling its visions. Constantine Karamanlis returns from his self-imposed exile in Paris to a savior’s welcome. Newspaper titles read: «Karamanlis or tanks.» At the huge pre-electoral rally of November 15, New Democracy supporters chant, «Karamanlis, Karamanlis, Greece’s glory and the nation’s hope,» and «Forward Costa, save the country.» [These rhyme in the original Greek e.g. Costa, prohora, sose tin chora.] Demands are for a purge of the political world, the punishment of the guilty parties during the seven years of dictatorship and a solution to the Cyprus issue. «Fascism shall not pass» is the slogan of the United Democratic Left (EDA), «Hand over the junta to the people» of the newly established Panhellenic Socialist Movement, and «Bread, schools and freedom» of the Center Union. Supporters of Giorgos Mavros say «yes» to the EEC and «no» to NATO, and clamor for «Mavros and Andreas in government together,» while the Andreas (Papandreou) in question battles «the instrument of domestic and foreign interests» – the new right of Constantine Karamanlis. His supporters give birth to the idea that «Greece belongs to the Greeks.» Ilias Iliou heads the left-wing forces, who demand junta supporters be punished, a general amnesty for all pre-1967 (the year the junta took over) political crimes, «no» to NATO and ousting (American) bases. ‘The great guarantee’ November 1977: Greece is a political cauldron. Constantine Karamanlis stands for re-election with the assurance that ND is the «great guarantee.» PASOK campaigns under the emblem of the green rising sun and the suggestion that the «EEC, the USA and NATO are one and the same thing» and «Out with the bases of death» – slogans that are remarkably similar to those of the now-legal Communist Party, or KKE («Out of NATO» and «Bases out»). The Center Union, with its emblem the legendary Liberty cap, still says «’Yes’ to the EEC, ‘no’ to NATO.» To the hypothetical question of to whom Greece finally belongs: ND replies that Greece belongs to the West; PASOK that it belongs to the Greeks and the Center Union, that it belongs to nobody. October 1981: There is change in the air. Each party expresses it in their own way: «ND is the one to make great changes» versus «A vote for PASOK is a vote for change.» The battle of the megaphones is on. Echoing through the old confectionery of Zonar’s is ND’s warning that «the continued existence of democracy depends on your vote.» It is countered by PASOK booming that October 18 will mark the end of «the anti-people policy of many years» and that «the people will be present at their own rendezvous with history.» An ND poster sports a Greek family and the slogan «New Democracy for eternal democracy.» But Manolis Glezos (of EDA, the United Democratic Left), Ilias Iliou and Giorgos Mavros stand by PASOK. «The people want change and PASOK can bring it,» says Andreas Papandreou at his pre-electoral rally that spread from Syntagma to Omonia Square, incorporating with incomparable mastery the slogans of his supporters into his speeches: «Forward, Andrea, for a new Greece» (the famous Embros, Andrea, yia mia Ellada nea) and «The people reply, ‘We’re done with the Right.’» «Democratic participation, no more 1963,» shouted KKE supporters (1963 being the year when EDA deputy Grigorios Lambrakis was assassinated) and, «A strong Left, with KKE at the head.» June 1985: The higher education bill leads to occupations of the schools of Law and Chemistry, Anti-State Struggle member Christos Tsoutsouvis is killed in a shootout with police and ND leader Constantine Mitsotakis questions the legality of the election of Christos Sarzetakis to the presidential office. «Down with the PASOK junta» and «Karamanlis is the nation’s leader,» ND supporters clamor. «A Greece that’s sold is what voting Right holds,» retort PASOK members. Left-wing parties accused the government of creating a two-party system and the KKE returned to a 1950s slogan: «Plastiras or Papagos, what’s the difference?» June 1989: Badly hurt by the Koskotas scandal and Andreas’s affair with air hostess Dimitra Liani, PASOK campaigns for re-election. «PASOK for development and change,» it says; «We deserve a better life,» is ND’s slogan, together with «The past divides us, the future unites. Time for work and unity.» Synaspismos Left Coalition demands a purge (catharsis). Opinion polls show young people to be uninterested in politics. November 1989: The coalition government of the Left and New Democracy clash sharply with the opposition. Pavlos Bakoyannis is murdered by November 17, Andreas Papandreou is brought to trial. Citizens are worn out by the extended electoral period and the sense of decay. The time of rallies comes to an end. The megaphone war and the poster battles are over. The age of televised political commercials has begun. «We overcame the past to build the future,» says ND, while PASOK proposes a joint deployment for a «new course.» Synaspismos demands «a purge, transparency and an independent judiciary.» On November 23, the all-party government of Xenophon Zolotas is formed. April 1990: PASOK distances itself from the magic word «change» and begins to talk of «cooperation, modernization, stability.» On a poster with a picture of the Berlin Wall after it came down, ND wonders: «The world is changing. And we?» It also introduces mudslinging: «PASOK recommends… a taste of Yugoslav corn» (this was reference to a scandal over imports of Yugoslav corn that were sold to the EEC as a Greek product so that Greece could rake in the subsidies) and «PASOK says support Swiss banks» – a reference to Menios Koutsogiorgas (charged then with taking money and putting it in a Swiss bank account in exchange for passing a a law). October 1993: The rift between ND and Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras, the Macedonian dispute, privatizations and economic policy all dent ND’s image. «Greece votes for hope,» declares Andreas Papandreou. «Forward and not backward, Greece will never turn back,» proclaims ND. «A Left with a new face,» Synaspismos proposes. Taunts continue. «Greece is non-negotiable. ND damages your health,» was PASOK’s riposte to an advertisement about Papandreou’s health. September 1996: These were the first couch elections. Two major political figures – Constantine Karamanlis and Andreas Papandreou – are no longer on the campaign trail. PASOK and ND both undertake to enter the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the Greek economy embarks on a race to fulfill EMU’s convergence criteria. Fixed party and ideological identities show signs of thawing. PASOK promises a «new age,» ND says it’s «time for work,» KKE insists that «people counterattack with a strong KKE,» Dimitris Tsovolas reminds people that «we are here…» and Nikos Constantopoulos (Synaspismos) proposes: «Look us in the eye and vote. Parliament is just the beginning.» April 2000: Campaigning under the slogan «All together to build the new Greece,» PASOK points to the country’s progress toward EMU. Hailing the spurious rise in the stock market, it promises «development and a better life for all.» The leader of ND attempts to wipe out bad memories of the Right and focuses on daily existence in his electoral campaign. «All together, we can do better» and «There is a better Greece that we want» are the party’s main slogans. Voters pay less attention to the content of political speeches and more to candidates’ style. Stars of the camera emerge as winners on the voting lists. March 2004: Analysts announce «the end of parties.» Greeks no longer believe in politics nor in politicians. Discontent is widespread and parties accuse each other of corruption. The heirs, Costas Karamanlis and George Papandreou, monopolize the elections. «We dare, we proceed, we change,» declares PASOK. ND supplements this with: «The country needs political change,» and «New policy, better Life.»