EDA: Between the devil and the deep blue sea

The United Democratic Left (EDA) celebrated the 50th anniversary of its foundation on January 21 at the Acropole Theater. Left Coalition leader Nikos Constantopoulos summed up EDA’s contribution: «After the defeat of the left in the tragic civil war, the moment of the great collapse, when many people thought that all was lost, EDA managed to regroup the Greek left and make it a basic player in social and political life. It aimed not only at achieving greater democracy, but at also combating the forces of the right, as well as the dual fronts of the center and the paternalism of the Political Bureau of the Greek Communist Party (KKE).» It would be true to say that from its inception on August 2, 1951 till its dissolution on April 21, 1967, EDA was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. With its back up against the KKE, it was struck repeatedly by the State which had won the civil war. And this was in the global climate of the Cold War, which encouraged the development of extreme illegality on both sides of a divided world. Today, no one doubts that EDA was formed thanks to the brave contributions of the outlawed KKE, in terms of effort, policies and membership. The claim made at that time by its political opponents – the security forces and the judges of the post-civil war regime – that EDA was «a substitute for the KKE» is not far from the truth. But it is equally true that, through its actions, development and achievements, EDA attempted to act independently on the political and organizational level – without, however, great success – in so far as it was allowed to do so by rightist persecutors and left-wing overseers. Nevertheless, EDA included such resounding names as Yiannis Passalidis, Stefanos Sarafis, Michalis Kyrkos, Ilias Iliou, Stavros Iliopoulos, Antonis Brillakis, Leonidas Kyrkos, Manolis Glezos, Babis Drakopoulos, Spyros Linardatos, Potis Paraskevopoulos, Yiannis Ritsos, Mikis Theodorakis, Manolis Anagnostakis, Costas Varnalis and Costas Kouloufakos. Then there were the «Lambrakides» (the young followers of EDA deputy Grigoris Lambrakis) with their considerable electoral clout, which scared quite a few people in 1958. This part of EDA succeeded, among other things, in achieving what New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said at the anniversary celebration: «It opened new paths. It taught moderation and ethic. It gave a lot and took very little.» And he added: «The contribution and the morale of its leading members was, and still is, a shining example in the annals of our modern history. They were, above all, people who wanted to give and not to take. And that must not be forgotten or underestimated.»

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