On September 3, 1974 Andreas Papandreou formed the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), the party that ruled for 20 years and marked post-dictatorship politics in Greece.
Papandreou, son of Georgios Papandreou who was in Greek politics from 1923 until 1967 and served four times as prime minister of Greece, had just come back from exile in Canada, after the fall of the seven-year junta.
The 55-year-old politician, who had been in the Center Union party before the military coup in 1967, decided that it was time for radical changes in Greece, mainly the end of foreign political influence and the establishment of socialism in Greece. He refused to lead a centrist party because his ideas were more radical.
The symbol of the green sun and the word “movement” instead of “party” showed that Papandreou wanted to bring something new in Greek politics.
On September 3, at King’s Palace hotel in Athens, 150 people who were the core of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, declared the establishment of the new party and Papandreou read the entire “Declaration of Principles” and then distributed to the attending members of the press a small green booklet with the party principles.
The PASOK principles were national independence, people’s rule, social liberation and democracy. Like Papandreou had underlined, “the main goal of the movement is to create a state free of foreign control or interference, and free from the control or influence of the economic oligarchy.”
PASOK won the elections in 1981 based on a socialist agenda that was anti-European Union and anti-NATO. Papandreou never fulfilled his promises to pull Greece out of the EU or NATO. Papandreou ruled 1981-1989 and from 1993 until his death in 1996. PASOK remained in power from 1996 until 2004 with Costas Simitis at the helm.
Ironically, the man who put Greece in the European common currency bloc in 2001 was PASOK prime minister Simitis. It was equally ironic that George Papandreou, Andreas’ son, led Greece to the austerity bailout deal in 2010 during his brief stint as prime minister from the end of 2009 until 2011. For many Greeks, George Papandreou was a traitor who surrendered the sovereignty of Greece to the international creditors.
The once mighty party is now a political entity that in the January elections won only 4.68 percent of the vote and got 13 seats in the 300-strong Greek Parliament. For the upcoming elections, the party gathers about the same percentage points in opinion polls. New party leader Fofi Gennimata, daughter of PASOK founding member and former minister Giorgos Gennimatas, is trying to restore party’s credibility.