Greece Update Page: 1 of 6
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Order Code RS21855
Updated April 17, 2008
~. CRS Report for Congress
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Defense Division
The conservative New Democracy (ND) party won reelection in September 2007.
Kostas Karamanlis, its leader, remained prime minister and pledged to continue
economic reforms to enhance growth and create jobs. The government's foreign policy
focuses on the European Union (EU), relations with Turkey, reunifying Cyprus,
resolving a dispute with Macedonia over its name, other Balkan issues, and sustaining
good relations with the United States. Greece has assisted with the war on terrorism, but
is not a member of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. This report will be updated if
developments warrant. See also CRS Report RL33497, Cyprus: Status of U.N.
Negotiations and Related Issues, by Carol Migdalovitz.
Government and Politics
Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis called for early parliamentary elections to be held
on September 16, 2007, instead of in March 2008 as scheduled, believing that his
government's economic record would ensure easy reelection. In August, however, Greece
experienced severe and widespread wildfires, resulting in 76 deaths and 270,000 hectares
burned. The government's performance during the crisis was widely viewed as ineffective
and the fires followed a scandal over the state pension fund's purchase of government
bonds at inflated prices. Under these circumstances, Karamanlis's New Democracy
party's (ND) ability to win a slim majority of 152 seats in the unicameral 300-seat
parliament and four more years in office was viewed as a victory. (On January 31, 2008,
an ND deputy declared himself an independent, reducing the party's majority to one seat.)
The main opposition PanHellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) also suffered losses,
while three small parties on the left and right registered significant gains and won seats.
One of these, the ultra-nationalist, anti-immigrant Popular Reforming and Orthodox Rally
(LAOS) party, entered parliament for the first time.
On September 18, 2007, Prime Minister Karamanlis announced a new, smaller
cabinet. He abolished the Public Order Ministry, which had been responsible for fighting
fires among other tasks, and merged it with the Interior Ministry. Foreign Minister Dora
Bakoyianni, Minister of Economy George Alogoskoufis, and Defense Minister Evangelos
Meimarakis retained their key posts.
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Greece Update, report, April 17, 2008; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc806602/m1/1/: accessed September 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.