- Karamanlis, Kostas
▪ 2005Ending 11 years of centre-left rule, Konstantinos (“Kostas”) Karamanlis in 2004 became the youngest prime minister in recent Greek history. In the process, he defeated the scion of another famous Greek political family, former foreign minister Georgios Papandreou, whose father and grandfather had both been prime ministers.Karamanlis was born in Athens on Sept. 14, 1956. He was the nephew of Konstantinos Karamanlis (1907–98), who, as government minister, prime minister, and president, shaped Greek politics for nearly half a century. The young Karamanlis started his political activities in New Democracy (ND), the party his uncle had founded after the restoration of democracy in Greece in 1974. Although Karamanlis held high positions within the party's youth and student organizations between 1974 and 1979, his political career remained unremarkable during most of the 1970s and '80s as he focused first on his studies (law, economics, and international relations in universities in Greece and the U.S.) and then on his professions as an educator and lawyer.Karamanlis's political career really took off only after he entered the parliament in June 1989. In 1993 he became a member of the ND central committee and political council. At the fourth ND congress in March 1997, Karamanlis was elected party president at the age of only 40 years, winning against several high-profile candidates, including the incumbent ND leader, Miltiadis Evert, and Georgios Souflias, a leader of the party's liberal wing.In April 2000 Karamanlis narrowly lost the parliamentary elections to then prime minister Kostas Simitis and his Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), but the ND was successful in all other elections after Karamanlis took over as party leader. Remarkably, Karamanlis managed to forge relative unity in a party that was traditionally riddled by factionalism between its more traditionalist-conservative and liberal wings, and he managed to persuade several politicians who had quit the party to return, including Souflias and former Athens mayor Dimitrios Avramopoulos.On March 7, 2004, the ND roundly defeated PASOK. Karamanlis was sworn in as prime minister, and on March 22 the new parliament voted confidence in him and his government. With less than five months to go until the start of the Athens Olympic Games, Karamanlis also took over the Ministry of Culture, which had overall responsibility for athletics and therefore for overseeing the preparations for the Games.As prime minister, Karamanlis would have to initiate political and economic reform while at the same time trying to limit the social costs. A rather cautious approach in his first six months in office gave the public an impression of a politician who was hesitant to take tough and possibly controversial positions.Stefan Krause
* * *▪ prime minister of Greecebyname of Konstantinos Karamanlisborn September 14, 1956, Athens, GreeceGreek politician who became prime minister of Greece in 2004.Karamanlis was the nephew of Konstantinos Karamanlis (Karamanlis, Konstantinos), who, as government minister, prime minister, and president, had shaped Greek politics for nearly half a century. The younger Karamanlis started his political activities in the New Democracy Party (New Democracy) (ND), which his uncle had founded in 1974. Although Karamanlis held high positions within the party's youth and student organizations between 1974 and 1979 and served in the navy (1977–79), his political career remained unremarkable as he focused on his studies. He earned a law degree at Athens University (1979) and later studied economics at the American College of Greece's Deree College. From 1980 to 1984 he attended Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, where he received a master's degree in political science and economics and a Ph.D. in international relations. Karamanlis subsequently returned to Greece to practice law and teach at Deree. He was elected to the parliament in June 1989, and in 1993 he became a member of the ND central committee and political council.In 1997 Karamanlis was elected party president, and as ND leader he forged relative unity in a party that was traditionally riddled by factionalism between its more traditionalist-conservative and liberal wings. He also persuaded several politicians who had quit the party to return. On March 7, 2004, the ND won the general elections, ending 11 years of centre-left rule under the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, and Karamanlis became the youngest prime minister in recent Greek history. Once in office, he undertook a reform program that was especially focused on the economy. Although there were widespread protests and strikes against what many perceived as neoliberal policies, support for his changes increased as the economy improved. In August 2007 Karamanlis called for early elections. Soon after, however, his government drew widespread criticism for its handling of deadly forest fires that swept the country. In the September 2007 elections, the ND lost seats but managed to hold a slim majority in parliament, returning Karamanlis to office for a second term.
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