Thirty years of democracy

The 30th anniversary since the collapse of the loathsome dictatorship and the restoration of democracy on July 24, 1974 naturally evokes a feeling of jubilation. It is the first time since the establishment of the modern republic that Greece has experienced such a lengthy period of uninterrupted democracy. This is evidence that the political changeover that took place three decades ago was founded on solid ground. Besides, it also explains the durability of the political system which was established at the time. Constantine Karamanlis is the undisputed architect of the post-1974 period. Nevertheless, the achievements of the past 30 years belong to the Greek people as a whole and to the sum of the country’s political factions which showed the requisite maturity to safeguard these accomplishments. «All nations would like to have a democracy. But the only ones who achieved it are the ones who, apart from realizing its benefits, also respected the way it should function,» said Karamanlis 30 years ago today. «We ought, with the experience of the past, to create the necessary conditions so that we can, at last, achieve a healthy and viable democracy,» the late statesman added. Indeed, the Greek people have lived up to the challenge and today they can feel proud of the smooth functioning of their democracy and the respect for its principles. As a system of government, democracy must constantly adapt itself to the needs of the times and, at the same time, deal with the unprecedented threats and distortions that surface as a result. The phenomena of corruption and of business and political entanglement which have dogged the country over the previous years demonstrate that political life can easily be diverted on to a murky path when power shifts from elected politicians to circles of economic interests that nourish preferential ties with the political elites. The longevity of Greece’s democratic system sends a strong message to politicians that policies which depend on long-term principles aimed at serving the people – the ultimate source of legitimacy – is a powerful lever that can shape the public domain for decades.