Religion in Greece• Among Greece’s religions, the biggestdenomination is the Greek Orthodox Church, towhich the majority of Greeks belong to, and islegally recognized as the “prevailing religion” ofGreece, which makes it one of the only Europeanstates with an official state religion.• Other significant Christian denominations includeCatholicism, Hellenic Neopaganism, andProtestantism; the second largest religion practicedin Greece is Islam.• A 2010 Eurobarometer Poll indicated that 79% ofGreek citizens believe in a God; 16% believed insome sort of spirit or life force; 4% said they did notbelieve there is any kind of God, spirit, or life force.• A more recent survey, taken in April 2011, carriedout by Kapa Research (a major Greek polling firm)per demand of To Vima newspaper, asking Greekcitizens if they believe in God or not, 56.3%responded “yes”, 20% responded “probably yes”,7.7% responded “probably no”, and 13% responded“no”.
Background of Greece’s political system• The political system of Greece functions in a parliamentary representativedemocratic republic; the PM of Greece is the head of government and of a multi-party structure.• Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Hellenic Parliament.• Between the reinstatement of democracy in 1974 and the debt crisis that hitGreece in 2010, the political structure was governed by the liberal-conservativeNew Democracy (Μέα Δημοκρατία – Nea Dimokratia, ΜΔ/ND) and the social-democratic Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Πανελλήνιο οσιαλιστικό Ιίνημα –Panellinio Sosialistiko Kinima, ΠΑΟΙ/PASOK).• The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Background of Greece’s politicalsystem – cont.• The 1975 constitution, which defines Greece as a “presidential parliamentaryrepublic”, lists general certain promises of civil freedoms, vesting the powers of thehead of state in a president who is elected by parliament.• The Greek governmental system resembles that of other Western democracies, and ithas been characterized as a compromise between the French and German models.• While the PM and cabinet play the important role in the political procedure, thepresident, in addition to formal duties, executes some executive and legislativeduties.• Voting in Greece is necessary, though not obligatory.• Greek politics is depicted as dynastic, with deep-rooted political families in charge ofthe positions of power.• This is undoubtedly true for the PMs, even though there are many Ministers and MPswithout relation to political families.
Government of Greece• Capital (and largest city): Athens• Official language(s): Greek• Demonym: Greek, Hellenic• Government: Unitary parliamentaryconstitutional republic• President: Karolos Papoulias• Prime Minister: Antonis Samaras• Speaker: Vangelis Meimarakis• Legislature: Parliament
Parties represented in the currentParliament and European Parliament• New Democracy (Νέα Δημοκπαηία; ND, Μ.Δ.)• Coalition of the Radical Left (ςναζπιζμόρ ηηρΡιζοζπαζηικήρ Απιζηεπάρ; SYRIZA, Υ.ΡΘΖ.Α.)• Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Πανελλήνιοοζιαλιζηικό Κίνημα; PASOK, ΠΑ.Ο.Ι.)• Independent Greeks (Ανεξάπηηηοι Έλληνερ;ANEL, ΑΜ.ΕΚ.)• Golden Dawn (Χπςζή Αςγή; Chrysi Avgi, ΧρυσήΑυγή)• Democratic Left (Δημοκπαηική Απιζηεπά;DIMAR, ΔΗΛ.ΑΡ.)• Communist Party of Greece (ΚομμοςνιζηικόΚόμμα Ελλάδαρ; KKE, Ι.Ι.Ε.)• Agreement for the New Greece (ςμθωνία για ηηΝέα Ελλάδα; NEEL, ΜΕΕΚ)• Popular Orthodox Rally (Λαϊκόρ Οπθόδοξορςναγεπμόρ; LAOS, ΚΑ.Ο..)• Ecologist Greens (Οικολόγοι Ππάζινοι; OP, Ο.Π.)
Karolos Papoulias• Born 4 June 1929 in Ioannina.• Current president of Greece, serving since 12 March2005.• Served as the Minister for Foreign Affairs from1985-1989 and from 1993-1996.• Is Major General Gregorios Papoulias’ son.• Studied law at the University of Athens and theUniversity of Milan; has a doctorate in privateinternational law from the University of Cologne,and is an associate of the Munich Institute forSoutheast Europe.• His native Greek aside, he speaks French, German,and Italian.• A former pole-vault and volley ball champion, hehas been chairman of the National SportsAssociation since 1985.• Is also a founding member and until recentlypresident of the Association for the Greek LinguisticHeritage.• Is married to Maria Panou, with whom he has threedaughters.
Antonis Samaras• Born 23 May 1951 in Athens.• PM of Greece since 20 June 2012.• Leader of New Democracy, the majorconservative party in Greece, since 30November 2009.• Briefly served as Minister of Finance in1989; subsequently served as Minister ofForeign Affairs from 1989-1990 and againfrom 1990-1992.• Is known for a controversy in 1993, when heeffectively caused the New Democracygovernment, which he was a member of, tolose power; despite this, he rejoined thatparty in 2004 and was elected its leader in anarrowly fought intra-party election late in2009.• Is the seventh leader of New Democracysince it was founded in 1974.
Vangelis Meimarakis• Born 14 December 1953 in Athens; is a Cretan.• Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament since 29 June 2012.• Formerly Minister of National Defense of Greece.• Joined New Democracy in 1974.• Was involved in student union politics while he studied atPanteion University; was a founding member of ONNED,the New Democracy youth organization.• Was named chairman of the ONNED ExecutiveCommittee in 1984; led that organisation to its firstconference in March 1987.• Has been a member of the New Democracy CentralCommittee since the second party conference inThessaloniki.• Was elected MP for the Athens B constituency for NewDemocracy in the general elections if 1989 (June andNovember), 1990, 1993, 1996, and 2000.• Served as Deputy Minister for Culture (Sports) from1992-1993.• Was general secretary of New Democracy until hisnomination as Defence Minister on 15 February 2006.• Is married to Ioanna Kolokota; they have two daughters.
New Democracy• Main centre-right political party; one of between2004 and 2009two major parties in Greece.• Antonis Samaras, its leader, is the PM of Greece.• Founded in 1974 by Konstantinos Karamanlis andmade the Third Hellenic Republic’s first cabinet.• After it served as Greece’s cabinet and was defeatedin a landslide in the 2009 Greek legislative election,in which they received their historical lowestpercentage of votes, New Democracy acquiredmore votes than any single party in the May 2012legislative election, even though it did not make amajority government.• Won the most number of votes in the re-run of theelection held in June 2012, but failed to obtain acomplete majority.• Nevertheless, it worked out a coalition with PASOK(its primary historic competitor) and DIMAR,making Samaras PM.• Member of the EPP; currently has 7/22 GreekMEPs in the EP.
Panhellenic Socialist Movement• Centre-left party.• Founded on 3 September 1974 byAndreas Papandreou.• Became the first social democraticparty in Greece to win a majority inthe Hellenic Parliament, in 1981.• Member of Socialist International(International affiliation),Progressive Alliance of Socialistsand Democrats (EP group), andParty of European Socialists(European affiliation).