Former Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis passed away

Former Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis passed away

Former Prime Minister and Honorary President of ND Konstantinos Mitsotakis died at 01.00 am on Monday.

“Konstantinos Mitsotakis died today at 01:00 am, surrounded by the persons he loved and who loved him”, said his family in an announcement. Konstantinos Mitsotakis is the father of Kyriacos Mitsotakis current President of New Democracy.

Mitsotakis was born in Halepa village, Chania, Crete, inside an already powerful political family, linked to Eleftherios Venizelos on both sides.

Konstantinos Mitsotakis was elected to the Greek Parliament for the first time in 1946, standing for the Liberal Party in his native prefecture of Chania, Crete. He followed most of the old Liberal Party into Georgios Papandreou’s Center Union in 1961. But in 1965 he led a group of dissidents, known as the “July apostates” or “apostasia”, who crossed the floor to bring about the fall of Papandreou’s government, which earned him the long-time hatred of Papandreou loyalists as well as a significant part of Greek society. He was arrested in 1967 by the military junta but managed to escape to Turkey with a help of Foreign minister of Turkey Ihsan Sabri Caglayangil and lived in exile with his family in Paris, France, until his return in 1974.

In 1974 he campaigned as an independent and failed to be elected to Parliament. He was re-elected in 1977 as founder-leader of the small Party of New Liberals and in 1978 he merged his party with Constantine Karamanlis’s New Democracy party. He served as minister for economic coordination from 1978 to 1980, and as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1980 to 1981.

The ND (New Democracy) government was defeated by Andreas Papandreou’s PASOK in 1981, and in 1984 Mitsotakis succeeded Evangelos Averoff as ND leader. He and Andreas Papandreou, the son of George Papandreou, dominated Greek politics for the next decade: their mutual dislike dated back to the fall of George Papandreou’s government in 1965.

Mitsotakis soundly defeated Papandreou, embroiled in the Bank of Crete scandal, in the June 1989 election. PASOK lost 36 seats in one of the largest defeats of a sitting government in modern Greek history. However, in a controversial move, Papandreou’s government had modified the election system a few months earlier to require a party to win 50 percent of the vote in order to govern alone. Thus, Mitsotakis was unable to form a government even though ND was the clear first-place party, with 20 more seats than PASOK. He was unable to garner support from the six MPs he needed to form a government, so Court of Cassation president Yannis Grivas became acting prime minister and presided over new elections in November 1989. This election yielded the same result as in June. ND finished 20 seats ahead of PASOK, but was still just short of forming a government.

After another period of deadlock, fresh elections in April 1990 produced another landslide ND victory, but still left Mitsotakis unable to govern alone. After the lone MP from Democratic Renewal agreed to go into coalition, Mitsotakis finally became Prime Minister. Thus, despite winning one of the most decisive victories in modern Greek history (27 seats ahead of PASOK), Mitsotakis’ government was very weak on paper, with a majority of only one vote.

Mitsotakis’s government moved swiftly to cut government spending as much as possible, privatise state enterprises and reform the civil service. In foreign policy, Mitsotakis took the initiative to have Greece formally recognize the state of Israel, and moved to reopen talks on American bases in Greece and to restore confidence among Greece’s economic and political partners. In June 1990, Mitsotakis became the first Greek Premier to visit the United States since the Metapolitefsi. He promised to meet Greece’s NATO obligations, to prevent use of Greece as a base for terrorism, and to stop the rhetorical attacks on the United States that had been Papandreou’s hallmark. Mitsotakis also supported a new dialogue with Turkey, but made progress on the Cyprus dispute a prerequisite for improvement on other issues.

Papandreou, cleared of charges arising from the Bank of Crete scandal in a 7–6 vote at the Eidiko Dikastirio (Special Court), criticised Mitsotakis’s government for its economic policies, for not taking a sufficiently strict position over the naming dispute with the newly independent Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Mitsotakis favored a composite name such as “Nova Macedonia”, for which he was accused at the time of being too lenient) as well as over Cyprus, and for being too pro-American. The heightened public irritation over the Macedonia naming issue caused several ND parliament members, led by Antonis Samaras, to withdraw their support from Mitsotakis’s government and form a new political party, Political Spring. Mitsotakis’s government had already restored the election system back to its original form, which allowed Papandreou’s PASOK to obtain clear parliamentary majority after winning the premature 1993 elections and return to office. Mitsotakis then resigned as ND leader, although he remained the party’s honorary chairman.

In January 2004 Mitsotakis announced that he would retire from Parliament at the 7 March election, 58 years after his first election./IBNA

With info from wikededia