Greece. According to
CountryAAH, the total population in Greece is 10,423,065 people in 2020. Kostas Karamanlis, leader of the ND Conservative
Party (Nea Dimocratia, New Democracy), became new prime
minister after his party defeated the ruling Socialist PASOK
(Panellinio Sosialistiko Kinima, the All-Greek Socialist
Movement) in the March 7 parliamentary elections. ND
received 45% of the vote and 165 out of 300 seats against
PASOK's 41% and 117 seats. Prime Minister Kostas Simitis had
announced the election two months earlier than planned so
that it would not conflict with preparations for the Athens
Olympics. Simitis had already resigned in January as leader
of PASOK, after which Foreign Minister Georgios Papandreou
had been elected new party leader on February 8. The
electoral movement revolved around unemployment, price
increases and corruption, problems for which the voters
blamed the government party. Even in the European Parliament
elections on June 13, ND became the largest party with 43%
of the vote against PASOK's 34%. PASOK had ruled Greece for 19
of the last 22 years.
The Athens Olympics August 13-29 went according to plan.
The preparations had been characterized by security
concerns, following several minor assaults on Olympic bodies
in the spring and summer, as well as by uncertainty about
the organizers' ability to get the arenas and infrastructure
ready in time. The cost of the games rushed off to € 8.8
billion, almost double the original budget of € 4.6 billion.
As a result, the country's budget deficit for the year is
estimated to be as much as 5.3% of GDP, a breach of the EU
Stability Pact, which states that the budget deficit may not
exceed 3% of GDP. In November, Greece admitted that the country
had already exceeded that limit in 1999, but that official
figures were being released in order to join the pact and
introduce the euro as currency.
The approach to the neighboring country and the former
arch-enemy Turkey continued. Turkey's Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdoǧan, as the first Turkish leader of 16 years,
visited Athens on May 8 and then received Karamanli's
assurance that Greece supported Turkey's attempt to become a
member of the EU. The countries signed an agreement on
security cooperation on 13 July.
Economic downturn and financial crisis
On December 6, 2008, a 15-year-old boy, Alexandros
Grigoropoulos, was shot and killed by police in the Exarhia
district of Athens. The incident caused great resentment on
the left and reminded people of the right-wing government of
the Junta from 1967 to 1974. Major demonstrations and youth
riots followed the incident and have been repeated on the
anniversary each year since.
The killing of Grigoropoulos punished the right wing in
the 2009 election. New democracy lost 61 seats in
parliament, while socialist PASOK became the big winner with
160 out of 300 seats in parliament and Georgios A.
Papandreou became prime minister. Papandreou became the
financial crisis in Greece's face for the next few years,
and he was quick to launch various savings programs.
During the election, another party emerged, the Coalition
of the Radical Left, Synaspismós Rizospastikís Aristerás
(SYRIZA). SYRIZA strengthened its position as an opposition
party in the years that followed, with leader Alexis Tsipras
in the lead. As the loser of the election, New Democracy
changed leadership and former Foreign Minister Antonis
Samaras took over for Kostas Simitis.
In January 2010, the Greek government launched an
economic stability program. This was the start of a number
of national savings programs over the next few years. Only
in April 2010 did Prime Minister Papandreou officially ask
for outside assistance. In May, the leaders of the eurozone
and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed on a € 110
billion emergency loan to Greece. 172 out of 300 MPs voted
for this first crisis agreement. The result was met with
violent demonstrations in Athens and three people lost their
lives in the ensuing riots.
From May 2011, talks began about a possible Greek
termination of EMU membership, popularly called Grexit ,
but both the EU and EMU made it clear that this was no
alternative. At the same time, opposition to the Troika
crisis packages comprising the European Union (EU), European
Central Bank (ECB) and IMF increased.
Unemployment continued to rise as more and more crisis
measures were launched. Despite Papandreou winning a vote of
confidence in October 2011, he chose to step down as prime
minister in early November of that year, probably following
international pressure. Lukas Papademos now became prime
minister in a three-party government consisting of PASOK,
New Democracy and LAOS. The smaller party Popular Orthodox
Collection, Laikós Orthódoxos Synagermós (LAOS) had
appeared on the right in the 2004 election. By the 2009
election, the party had received 5.6 percent of the vote and
15 seats in parliament.