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.