A surprise in 1958, the end in 1967

The political legitimacy of EDA coincides with the development of a climate of leniency toward the left, which Karamanlis initiated in the first days of his term as prime minister in October 1955. He put an end to the executions of communist prisoners, though the security forces did not relax their vigilance. When EDA went to the May 1958 elections in collaboration with Ilias Tsirimokos and other center-left figures, the post-Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union purged and exiled KKE leader Zachariadis. His successors followed his own example and denounced him, blaming him for all the KKE’s mistakes and even saying that their former leader’s policies were in line with the Greek secret service’s objectives. The new image of the KKE and the overtures made by the Soviet Union favored EDA and enabled it to overwhelm the feeble center and become the official opposition. This miraculous achievement was never to be repeated, because the «unrelenting struggle» to which Constantinos Mitsotakis compelled Giorgos Papandreou, together with the emergence of the Center Union as the official opposition, took the initiative away from EDA. Even after the murder of EDA deputy Grigoris Lambrakis in May 1963, the left did not manage to regain the initiative, because Papandreou proved to be superior at voicing opposition. EDA was unable to challenge the reinstated left-right polarity, even during the eventful demonstrations of July 1965. The extreme political language of Andreas Papandreou outflanked the Lambrakis Youth Movement, as well as the initiative of politicians with the wisdom of Ilias Iliou and the vigor of Leonidas Kyrkos. EDA’s final attempt to rally anti-right political forces, including the so-called apostates, against the clearly impending dictatorship bore no fruit. The party’s over On April 21, 1967, armed men burst into EDA’s offices on Aristeidou Street. This was the end of EDA as a party, but not the end of its members’ fervor. Thanks to Mikis Theodorakis, it was from EDA and the Lambrakis Youth Movement that the core of resistance to the junta was formed in Easter, just 10 days after the coup. Later on, however, when the armed forces and other groups formed the dictatorship with those who had conducted the coup, EDA supporters were active in the opposition and resistance. But the domination of the left by the KKE and the KKE-Interior, which broke away from the KKE, put EDA on the sidelines. Its role as a substitute for the KKE terminated with the latter’s legalization in 1974. Most of the communists felt that the left no longer needed EDA. Now, the issue of reopening dialogue with EDA has arisen once more, among the left-wingers in general. This discussion should not be an internal settling of accounts, nor a dispute that serves partisan aims. Nor should it be confined to a narrow Greek perspective. EDA and its opponents from the left and right should take a bold and honest look at the international environment of the Cold War.

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