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Venizelism was one of the major political movements in Greecemarker from the 1900s until the mid 1970s.

Ideology

Named after Eleftherios Venizelos, the key characteristics of Venizelism were:

  • Opposition to Monarchy. The struggle between Venizelists and pro-monarchist conservatives defined Greek politics during most of the 20th century.


  • Support of the Megali Idea, the aggressive pursuit of incorporation of all Greek-majority lands into Greece. It was the annexation of Cretemarker into Greece that propelled Venizelos (a Cretan himself) into Greek politics.






Venizelists have also been frequently described as nationalists, although in this attribute they did not differ much from their conservative opponents.

History

The Liberal Party

Venizelos' liberal party ruled Greece from 1910 until 1916. That year, determined to enter WWI on the entente side, Venizelos rebelled against the king and formed a provisional government in the north. He regained full control of the country and ruled until losing the 1920 elections.

After a crisis period (including two short-lived pro-Venizelist military governments after Nikolaos Plastiras 1923 coup) the liberals returned to power from 1928 until 1932. Venizelists Sophoklis Venizelos and George Papandreou formed the core of the Greek government in exile during the German occupation of Greece (1941-1944), and held power a number of times in the 1950s.

The Center Union

George Papandreou created the Center Union party in 1961, as a coalition of Venizelists and progressive conservatives. In 1963 the party was elected and held power until 1965, when its right wing broke ranks in the events known as the Apostasia.

The Centrist Democratic Union

After the 1967-1974 Junta, Venizelists formed the Center Union-New Forces party, which then evolved into the Union of the Democratic Centre ( ). While the Venizelist legacy was still popular, election results were disappointing as the abolition of the monarchy, the dilution of support for the Megali Idea after the 1974 Cyprusmarker Invasion, and Karamanlis' move towards the political center had blurred the differences between the liberals and their former conservative opponents, while the socialist PASOK party was gaining support at the left side of the spectrum.

Absorption by the New Democracy party

In 1984, Constantine Mitsotakis became the leader of Karamanlis' conservative New Democracy party, marking for all practical purposes the merger of the two former rival ideologies against PASOK.

Legacy

Although the image of Venizelos is still very popular in Greece today, Venizelism is no longer a major force in Greek politics. In the 2004 elections for the European Parliamentmarker, the leading Venizelist party was the Union of Centrists, gaining only 0.54% of the Greek popular vote.


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