Approval voting elected the Greek parliament 1864-1926


I only recently found out from Kopfermann 1991 that the Greek parliament was elected by means of approval voting using single-member elections in districts, during 1864-1926.

Klaus Kopfermann: Mathematische Aspekte der Wahlverfahren: Mandatsverteilung bei Abstimmungen, BI-Wissenschaftsverlag, Mannheim, 1991 (287 pages). Library of Congress catalog number JF1001.K66 1991. NY public library (offsite storage request) catalog number ReCAP 11-32868. ISBN-10: 3411149019. ISBN-13: 978-3411149018.

This is by far the longest duration use of approval voting to elect a federal government during the last 300 years. The US political science professors who "invented" approval voting during the late 1970s had all been unaware of this and it was not mentioned in the only 2 books I know of devoted to the topic of approval voting.

The natural questions then are:

  1. Was Kopfermann correct? Can we independently confirm his claim?
  2. Why was the approval system adopted, and why was it eventually abandoned?
  3. What happened to Greece during those 61 years (plus somewhat earlier and later years)?
  4. What happened about parties in parliament – was there 2-party domination, or what?

Some of the answers are easy, others not, but here's the quick summary:

  1. Kopfermann was correct. We have found two independent confirmations. And previously, during 1844-1864, it appears Greece employed plurality voting.
  2. It appears that Greece's 1864 decision to adopt its approval voting system was motivated by
    1. Its alleged prior use in the Ionian Islands (which were ceded to Greece in 1864, immediately becoming at the time the wealthiest and economically best off part of Greece) while under the rule of Venice from 1202-1797.
    2. Hopes that the "color coded" and ballotless approval system would be both less corrupted/fraudulent, more private, and more usable by illiterate voters, than plurality voting.
    3. Conceivably, although I have no evidence for it, this decision also had roots in previous Greek history, namely Ancient Sparta's reliance on score voting.
    Greece ultimately abandoned approval as part of an ill-fated switchover to a proportional representation (PR) system. The switchover to PR was probably motivated by the large defeat of Venizelos' Liberal Party in terms of seat count in parliament, despite the Liberals actually winning a slight majority of the votes, in 1920. PR systems may or may not be superior to single-winner systems including approval and score voting. However, PR wasn't superior in this particular case, in the sense that soon after the switch to PR Greece collapsed into chaos. They would have been better off staying in the same situation they'd previously been in – if that were possible, which it might not have been, considering the mounting overall chaos at the time.
  3. Overall, Greece seems to have improved greatly during the approval-voting era, although the improvement was initially frustratingly slow. And soon after this era ended, Greece got substantially worse. So if the Greek experience is used to judge approval voting – which is a dangerous thing to do since it is "only one datapoint" and since the improvements and worsenings might well have been caused by other things than approval; the historical situation was very complicated and stressful – then in my opinion the overall judgment would have to be positive.
  4. There was a 2-party-domination (2PD) sub-era of the approval-voting era. However, this may actually have been beneficial for Greece, and it was not permanent (unlike the USA's descent into 2PD under the plurality voting system, which unfortunately appears to be permanent). This 2PD was intentionally striven for by C.Trikoupis – who believed it would benefit Greece – by in 1875 making King George I agree to the principle of "didolomeni," which meant that the Prime Minister from then on would always be from the party with the plurality in Parliament. (Previously, the King had appointed the prime minister from among the then-serving MPs according to his personal whim.) Didolomeni greatly incentivized small parties to merge into one of the two biggest because otherwise the split side would lose the power of the prime minister. Why did Trikoupis want 2-party domination? EXPLAIN?? Did it work?? Indeed, Greece toward the end of its approval voting era elected Eleftherios Venizelos (1864-1936), generally regarded as the greatest Greek statesman/leader during the last 300 years, as prime minister. Venizelos at that time was leading a previously unempowered and unrepresented political party. Such a changeover would have been unthinkable in the USA under plurality voting and 2PD.

Approval voting as a "stepping stone" to proportional representation? PR advocates might want to note this:

Approval voting after 61 years served as a stepping stone in Greece to a PR system. This contrasts with every country that I am aware of that has been based on plurality voting for a 61-year span, like UK, USA, India, Canada. Have any of them ever switched to PR? Well, I don't know who to count but it seems clear plurality is not a reliable stepping stone to PR, it clearly often fails to do so. Meanwhile, the only country ever to use approval for a prolonged period during the last 300 years, Greece, switched to PR. So Greece is only one datapoint but as far as it goes supports my theory approval is a better stepping stone to PR than plurality voting is.

Also, approval voting was used near the end of the Soviet Union as part of an experiment in democratization by M.Gorbachev (who, being no imbecile, figured if he were going to introduce democracy, why not use the best single-winner voting system known at the time). This experiment did not last long because the USSR collapsed a few years later. The USSR's fragments then became in many cases democracies or pseudo-democracies, I think all of them PR. So this "datapoint" again supports (in a rather lame fashion, but supports) the approval⇒PR stepping stone theory... which therefore seems supported by 100% of the (very limited) available evidence.

King George I.
King George I

Greek history

As I write this (2015), Greece's government is essentially bankrupt and begging for international financial bailouts. It had similar, albeit worse, problems during 1800-1900.

The approval voting era commenced soon after the crowning of King George I of Greece on 30 March 1863. He reigned until his death by assassination on 18 March 1913. And since he was born in December 1845, George became king at age 17. And where did this 17 year old "George" come from? Not Greece. He'd never even been to Greece and couldn't speak or read the language. (He spoke Danish and English, with lesser knowledge of French and German.) And he wasn't named George either. Actually, he was "Prince Vilhelm of Schleswig-Holstein, Denmark," born in Copenhagen, and was a cadet in the Danish royal navy, renouned mainly for his love of pranks and good humor.

However fate, more precisely European power politics, intervened. At the London conference of August 1863, the Great Powers, negotiating what to do about Greece, decided to install a king. However, neither the Russians, English, or French – the three "protecting powers" of Greece (in the terminology of the day) – could install one of their own (or allied) princes because the other two would have objected. And certainly a prince from some anti-aligned power (e.g. Prussia or Turkey) would be unacceptable. Therefore this minor Dane was chosen, probably greatly to his surprise, as a neutral compromise. The facts that George was young, utterly non-Greek, inexperienced, and apparently rather vain, probably all were considered advantageous. (As opposed, to, say, enthroning some experienced Greek, which of course was absurd.) It was agreed that all George's children were to be members of the Greek Orthodox Church – albeit a special exception was made for George himself, who was Lutheran – and the monarchy was to be male-hereditary.

Political situation before George I. Let's backtrack a bit. The three "Great Powers," (England, France, and Russia) had agreed in the "London protocol of 1830" that Greece should nominally be independent, but their installed (1833) King Otho – also called Otto, originally a Bavarian prince who could not speak Greek, lifespan 1815-1867 – was incompetent and widely disliked. Ultimately, in 1862, a bloodless coup was organized to depose him. Specifically, Otho was out of the country at the time and was prevented from returning. (He spent the rest of his life in exile back in Bavaria.)

Otho was an "absolute monarch" with total power overriding (if he wished) every other governmental body. However in 1843 a mutiny forced him to accept (or pretend to) the reduced status of "constitutional monarch" having to share power, to some extent, with two houses of parliament. The resulting constitution of March 1844 is claimed to be the first in Europe providing universal male suffrage. Otho however continued to try to be an absolute monarch by using electoral fraud, military intimidation, and terror, and generally not cooperating with or defending the constitution. Thomas Gallant described Otho as "neither ruthless enough to be feared, nor compassionate enough to be loved, nor competent enough to be respected."

The post-coup situation in 1862 was, however, not acceptable to the Great Powers. And apparently the Greeks did not like it either and actually wanted a king to be given to them – just a better one. There was, indeed, a Greek plebiscite in 1862 (apparently the first Greece-wide referendum ever held; 241202 voters) finding 95% wanted the Great Powers to give them a king, and specifically about 95% of those 95% wanted the UK's Prince Alfred, son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Alfred, was, however, unacceptable to France & Russia under the protocols of 1830 or 1832. Hence, George I, who for some reason had received 6 votes in that plebiscite.

At George's enthronement, the British government announced to the joy of the Greeks that they would cede the Ionian Islands (lying west of Greece) to Greece as a goodwill gesture.

Whyever did Greece want a king? Kings were actually quite a useful thing for a European country to have, especially if they were good ones. If long-lived and competent, they could bring stability to a country. They were trained from birth to rule. In George's case he had military and language knowledge far exceeding the average person, and lifelong dedication. And he also was familially related to a vast number of other European Royal families, a great advantage for diplomacy. This was crucial since Greece was at the mercy of the Great Powers and could not afford to misjudge them. If Greece had indeed gotten their first choice Prince Alfred, all those advantages (except for language knowledge) would have been even greater.

Kings, of course, also had disadvantages – especially bad ones with no qualifications besides genetics. But Greece was in such a desperate situation in 1863 that they had to roll the dice and hope for a good outcome. And George I, being intentionally chosen, i.e. not forced upon everyone solely due to his birth, thus plausibly could hope actually to be better than the average King. So, while this was a roll of the dice for Greece, it was a roll with better odds than usual. And in my opinion, Greece lucked out. George I worked out better for Greece that probably than most anyone expected. Things could easily have been a lot worse.

In particular, George proved to be a strong polyglot, toward the end of his life being comfortable in Danish, Greek, English, German, and French (and with a Russian wife to help with Russian). He was a good diplomat with good insights into the foreign powers. This undoubtably was aided by the fact his father Christian IX and mother Louise turned out to be excellent procreators; Christian was dubbed the "father in law of Europe" for his & Louise's unmatched ability to produce descendants who'd end up in the royal lines of important other countries.

Family tree (highly abbreviated) of George I:
Christian IX, king of Denmark (life 1818-1906) married Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel (life 1817-1898). They had 6 children. Descendants besides Greece's George I include Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (and her husband Philip), King Philippe of Belgium, Kings Harald V and Haakon VII of Norway, King Felipe VI of Spain, Nicholas II of Russia, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, queen consort Anne of Romania, and Queen Sofia of Spain.
George I (life 1845-1913) married Olga, grand Duchess of Russia (life 1851-1926). George I was 2nd son, and 3rd child, of Christian IX. G.I became king 1863. Reigned until assassination 1913. G+O had 5 sons and 3 daughters, including...
Constantine I (life 1868-1923) married Sophie of Prussia (life 1870-1932). C.I abdicated and departed Greece 1917, being replaced by his 2nd son Alexander who reigned 1917 until his death in 1920; then was temporarily replaced by Paul, third son of C.I+Sophie. C+S had 3 sons and 3 daughters, including his first son...
George II (life 1890-1947) married Elisabeth of Roumania (life 1894-1956). G+E had no children. They separated in 1932 and divorced in 1935. G.II was "king in name only" says Kiste p143. In 1924 the Vouli under A.Papanastiou declared Greece a republic and the monarchy abolished. G.II left the country. But in 1946 a Greek plebiscite was held with 69% voting for the return of G.II (who at that time was living in London) with return to constitutional monarchy. G.II indeed then returned, but died within a year.
G.I+Olga also had son Andrew (life 1882-1944) whose son Philip (1921-) married Queen Elizabeth II of England in 1947, thus becoming "Duke of Edinburgh" and "royal consort."

Constitution. A Greek constitution then was written by a Greek assembly at George's urging (this took about a year), and duly signed into law by George in November 1864. Unlike Otho, George actually supported the constitution throughout his life, even later revisions diminishing his royal powers. In this stance George was surely influenced by the fact that in 1849, his own Denmark had peacefully set up, with the cooperation of its then king Christian VIII, a constitutional monarchy featuring civil rights guarantees, a bicameral house, and universal male suffrage for electing the lower house, or "Folketing" (albeit restricted suffrage for other house, the "Landsting"). Christian VIII is not to be confused with George's father who later, in Nov. 1863, was peacefully enthroned as Christian IX, king of Denmark, after Frederick VII died childless. Christian IX was unrelated (or only very distantly) to Christian VIII. It did not escape George's notice that Denmark did not implode after taking this remarkable step. It seemed to do quite well.

Greece's 1864 constitution clearly stated the principle of the people as the ultimate source of power, since the only legislative body with reversionary powers was the unicameral Parliament, or "Vouli." (The "Senate," viewed as a tool of the Monarch, was abolished.) The Vouli consisted of males aged≥30, serving terms of ≤4 years, elected directly by the people, via approval voting with secret ballot, with universal suffrage for males aged≥21. It is arguable – and indeed the Greeks do argue – that this made them the first country in modern Europe to govern itself via universal suffrage. The Vouli's election via approval voting also was a first, albeit their voting method does not seem to have been specified within the constitution itself.

Greek constitutions (written in Greek, unless otherwise specified): 1844, 1864, 1911 revision, 1911 English translation, 1927, and the current one (as of year 2016) in English translation. Of those, I only read the 1911 English one and it does not directly discuss voting methods. Apparently this English translation was made by Dag Trygsland Hoelseth, a Norwegian historian. The 1927 constitution officially ended the Greek approval voting era.

But the King retained very considerable powers under the 1864 constitution, see below.

The fact that George gave the crucial spark of life to the 1864 constitution, was somewhat odd given that under its provisions he was not yet old enough to vote. But nobody remarked on that oddness besides me.

Money. In recompense for his services the King was to receive 4000 pounds annually from each of England, Russia and France (this £12K is equivalent to about $1 million in year-2015 dollars), plus 1125K drachmas extracted from Greece on day one to buy (I suppose) several palaces; plus 200K drachmas annually. The drachma at that time was worth the same as a French franc, which both were worth about $13 in year-2015 dollars. The £4000 payments from the three Great Powers really came from Greece in the sense that the Powers each "forgave" £4000 worth of Greek debt repayments each year to finance it.

Meanwhile, the constitution said the Vouli members would get paid travel expenses plus were allowed to vote themselves 1800 drachma per session, a session being part (3-6 months) of a year. In 1898 the Vouli had 298 members but in 1906 only 177. Thus the entire house combined earned somewhat fewer drachmas than 2 or 3 kings. Nevertheless the Vouli members were paid very well in comparison to the average person, see table.

CountryLegislator salaryKing/president salaryRatioPer capita GDP
Greece (1864 constitution)1.8K drachma (worth ≈$23K in year-2015 dollars)200K drachma+12K pounds (worth ≈$2.6M+$1M in year-2015 dollars)111-156About $986 in 1870, and $1455 in 1913 (both in year-2015 US dollars)
USA (year 1872)5K dollars (worth ≈$105K in year-2015 dollars)25K dollars (worth ≈$525K in year-2015 dollars)5 $3K in year-2015 dollars (about $115 in year-1872 dollars)
USA (year 2015)$177K$400K2.25$53K

Population. Each Vouli member represented a district with about 10000 to 16000 population (depending on the year we are speaking of) during this era. The entire Greek population varied between 1.5 million in 1870 up to 2.7 million in 1913.

For his part, George promptly married mail-order bride Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia in 1867, then age 16 (she also could not speak Greek – nor English, nor Danish – she and her husband communicated in German), and commenced busily procreating (8 children, the first in 1868). George and Olga did, to their credit, learn Greek, albeit always speaking it with an accent, and George could be claimed to be ahead of his time for approving such an advanced constitution.

The Greek approval-voting method allowed even illiterate people to vote. That was important since 71% of Greek men were illiterate in 1870 (including, initially, the King, unless you count foreign languages). For each candidate there was an APPROVE urn and a DISAPPROVE urn, painted, respectively, white and black. Each voter was given a marble, which he could place in one of those two urns in a private manner (secret ballot).

(With standardized marbles this also would allow tallying the votes by weighing the urns, although I do not know whether they did that.)

How did the authors of the constitution think of this method??? I do not know. And actually I do not think it even was specified in the constitution itself. But permit me to speculate. They may have known about Ancient Sparta's reliance on continuum range voting, and surely knew that the whole idea of "democracy" often is claimed to have been invented in Ancient Athens. (The Ancient Greeks also sometimes employed the idea of a secret ballot, which also had been adopted in the French constitutions of 1795 and 1848.) They also may have known about the 3-level range voting system (also employing marbles and urns) that underlay renaissance Venice's government. Remember, Sparta was part of the glorious ancient Greek Age and the Spartan voting system was discussed in the writings of, e.g, Aristotle. And Venice had ruled a large chunk of Greece, including most of the Adriatic coast, about half the time during 1200-1715, plus ruled Crete throughout 1204-1669 and Cyprus 1489-1571.

What was Greece like during the beginning of the approval voting era? It was a hellhole. Poverty was rife and relieved only by mass emigration to the USA. The economy was almost wholy agricultural and almost all land was owned by rich landlords who rented it to poor landless peasants. We already mentioned the massive illiteracy. When George I arrived from Denmark, the country was already massively in debt; the army was disloyal; there were no roads anywhere outside Athens; land transport was by mule on paths. There were no railroads at all. Bands of brigands roamed. Society and government were tremendously corrupt, with "patron-client relationships" permeating all levels of society. The government was bloated and wasteful, e.g. in the 1870s the number of civil servants in Greece was 7× the number (per capita) in Britain. Open bribery and electoral fraud both were common.

What were the political parties? The Encyclopedia Brittanica (1926 edition, although this part of their "Greece" article may have been retained from some earlier edition?) says corruption was rife in the Vouli, and that the main purpose of political parties in this era was "not for the furtherance of any cause or principle, but [rather] with the object of obtaining the spoils of office" and "even the strongest government is obliged to bargain with its supporters in regard to the distribution of patronage and other favors." Initially after George I's enthronement, there were 3 main parties, colloquially called the "English," "French," and "Russian" parties, but the importance of these did not last long.

The King had to appoint all public officials, judges, and appointed and dismissed the ministers of the 7 departments (education, justice, finance, worship, interior, army, navy). He also could make treaties?? Declare wars?? George I's son, crown prince Constantine, served during George's later years as commander in chief of the army. The king also, during 1864-1875, appointed all the Prime Ministers, apparently by choosing whichever Vouli member he liked the most. The King also had the power to convene and dissolve parliament, albeit if he dissolved it then he had to call elections to reconvene it within 3 months. Cabinet needed to approve?? The power to dissolve parliament, dismissing all vouli members, was exercised by George I three times (1865, 1875, and 1892).

The 1926 Brittanica simply labels George I's handling of all that as "personally irresponsible"??

Greek history was horrible and disgusting, and the whole country seems basically to have been horrible throughout 1800-1900. However, it could be argued that approval voting system did ultimately work to improve the situation with the landslide election of the Liberals under E.Venizelos first in 1910, who turned them into an emerging Mediterranean power by 1913 -- as opposed to a bankrupt dysfunctional corrupt subservient client state under an irresponsible playboy monarch -- and ultimately forced the end of the monarchy, The Greeks then changed their system starting in 1926 to a PR system without approval ballots anymore. That, however, had problems and was replaced by a disproportional system in 1928... I would like to (but haven't yet... more research must be done... complicated story) make a web page about the Greek experience and what we can learn from it. But for now I point out this: 1. Approval voting during some parts of its era yielded multiparty rule, other parts 2-party domination (reckoned by Greek history books as a 20-year 2-party domination sub-era), but that 2-party domination was reversible and was reversed, with the 1910 Liberal landslide coming from nowhere (in the sense they'd never held any decent number of seats before). This contrasts with, say, the USA under plurality voting where 2-party domination has proved irreversible, and it is inconceivable that a party could win a landslide from nowhere. From 1864 to 1874, Greece had 21 governments, the longest of which lasted a year and a half. In July 1874, Charilaos Trikoupis, a member of the Greek Parliament, wrote an anonymous article in the newspaper Kairoi blaming King George and his advisors for the continuing political crisis caused by the lack of stable governments. In the article, he accused the King of acting like an absolute monarch by imposing minority governments on the people. If the King insisted, he argued, that only a politician commanding a majority in the Vouli could be appointed prime minister, then politicians would be forced to work together more harmoniously in order to construct a coalition government. Such a plan, he wrote, would end the political instability and reduce the large number of smaller parties. Trikoupis admitted to writing the article after a man supposed by the authorities to be the author was arrested, whereupon he was taken into custody himself. After a public outcry, he was released and subsequently acquitted of the charge of "undermining the constitutional order". The following year, the King asked Trikoupis to form a government (without a majority) and then read a speech from the throne declaring that in future the leader of the majority party in parliament would be appointed prime minister Greek territory growth: Greece in the last decades of the 19th century was increasingly prosperous and was developing a sense of its role on the European stage. In 1893, the Corinth Canal was built by a French company cutting the sea journey from the Adriatic Sea to Piraeus by 150 miles (241 km). King George's son Prince George as Governor-General of Crete. Nevertheless, Prince George resigned in 1906 after a leader in the Cretan Assembly, Eleftherios Venizelos, campaigned to have him removed. The Greek Constitution of 1911 was a major step forward in the constitutional history of Greece. Following the rise to power of Eleftherios Venizelos after the Goudi revolt in 1909, Venizelos set about attempting to reform the state. The main outcome of this was a major revision to the Greek Constitution of 1864. The most noteworthy amendments to the Constitution of 1864 concerning the protection of human rights, were the more effective protection of personal security, equality in tax burdens, of the right to assemble and of the inviolability of the domicile. Furthermore, the Constitution facilitated expropriation to allocate property to landless farmers, while simultaneously judicially protecting property rights. Other important changes included the institution of an Electoral Court for the settlement of election disputes stemming from the parliamentary elections, the addition of new conflicts for MPs, the re-establishment of the State Council as the highest administrative court (which, however, was constituted and operated only under the Constitution of 1927), the improvement of the protection of judicial independence and the establishment of the non-removability of public employees. Finally, for the first time, the Constitution provided for mandatory and free education for all, and declared Katharevousa (i.e. archaising "purified" Greek) as the "official language of the Nation". The Greek Constitution of 1844 defined Greece as a constitutional monarchy,[3] providing for a bicameral parliament, consisting of a Chamber of Deputies and a Senate. The Greek Constitution of 1864 was somewhat more liberal, and transferred most of the real power to the parliament. In 1874 Charilaos Trikoupis published a manifesto entitled "Who's to blame?", naming King George I as the answer. Specifically, he condemned the king for bypassing parliamentary opinion in his selection of Prime Ministers. The article landed him briefly in jail, but also boosted his popularity significantly. A year later, on 8 May 1874 he mustered a parliamentary plurality and George reluctantly named him as Prime Minister. Thanks to Trikoupis' article, a new constitutional principle was recognized and implemented: the king was required to give the largest party in parliament first choice of forming a government. In 1911 Eleftherios Venizelos amended 54 of the 110 articles of the Constitution, trying to bring the constitution in line with his Liberal Party's principles. Nevertheless, the National schism of 1916 caused a huge constitutional crisis, as two governments were formed: one in Athens and one in Thessaloniki. popular uprising and to the insurrection of the Athens Guard in September 1843. After the revolution the National Assembly voted for a new Constitution. Constitutional Monarchy (1843 – 1862) The Constitution of 1844 was not the result of a sovereign national assembly, yet the latter simply conceded to its composition. For this reason it was characterized as “Constitution – Contract” or “Constitution – Treaty”. It established the principle of the monarch’s sovereignty, as the monarch retained the decisive power and incarnated the State; the legislative power was to be exercised by the King - who also had the right to ratify laws –along with the Parliament, and the Senate. The new Constitution also established the principle of the separation of powers. In addition, the monarch would appoint and dismiss ministers who assumed responsibility and were accountable for the King's actions. The Constitution made reference for the first time to fundamental individual rights such as the "secrecy of letters" and the "inviolability of home." Article 107 states that "Observance of the Constitution is entrusted to the patriotism of Greeks/" Lastly the National Assembly adopted the electoral law of March 18, 1844, which was actually the first European law ever to make reference, in essence, to universal ballot. The Constitution of 1844 established hereditary constitutional monarchy, recognized for the first time some fundamental individual rights (secrecy of letters, inviolability of home) and provided that the "Observance of the Constitution is entrusted to the patriotism of Greeks" (the period of Constitutional Monarchy) The Constitution of 1864 followed a popular revolt and restored the principle of popular sovereignty; it was governed by the democratic principle, being the first Constitution of Democracy with a King as head of the State. Additionally, it established for the first time in the world, the principle of universal (direct and secret) ballot (the relevant period) The first period of Crowned Democracy (1864 – 1909) A continuously changing social environment favoured a liberal and democratic consciousness in a way that King Otto’s absolutist tendencies could no longer be tolerated. In October 1862 a rising wave of discontent led the people and the military to rebel against King Otto and oust him along with the Wittelsbach dynasty. The revolt marked the end of constitutional monarchy and the beginning of a crowned democracy with George – Christian – Wilhelm of the Schleswig – Holstein –Sønderburg – Glücksburg dynasty as monarch. During the transition period (October 1862 – October 1863) the system of governance was that of a governing parliament which was in operation for the first and the last time in the constitutional history of the country. The Constitution of 1864 was the product of the “2nd Athens National Assembly” that followed a popular revolt. The Constitution included 110 articles and was influenced by the Constitutions of Belgium (1831) and Denmark (1849). With the revisions of 1911 and 1952 this Constitution lasted more than a century. One of the most important elements of the new charter was the restoration of the principle of popular sovereignty, where the people and not the monarch were the source and the driving force of state power. In addition, it established the principles of direct, universal and secret ballot which would take place simultaneously in the entirety of the country. The Assembly opted for a single-chamber (unicameral) Parliament for a four-year term, and hence abolished the Senate. The new Constitution would also allow Parliament to establish "fact-finding, investigation committees". Moreover, the King preserved the right to convoke ordinary and extraordinary parliamentary sessions, and dissolve Parliament at his discretion, as long as, however, the Cabinet signed and endorsed the dissolution decree. The democratic nature of the new political system was also affirmed by the Throne speech in August 11, 1875. The speech established, albeit informally the principle of the parliament’s «declared confidence» which attributed a different meaning to the entire system of the organization of political powers and legitimized fundamentally the introduction of the parliamentary system. According to the principle of «declared confidence» the King had the obligation to appoint the Government taking into consideration the will of the parliament’s majority. Therefore, the Constitutional provision according to which «the King appoints and removes ministers» was in practice confined, insofar as the Government ought to receive a vote of confidence by the parliament. The second period of Crowned Democracy and the declaration of a Republic (1911 – 1924.) The Constitution of 1864 did not change until 1911. However, the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th were characterized by significant sociopolitical changes. The rise of the middle class, a shift in the role of the military, the gradual disappearance or the weakening of old political parties and practices, the new economic conditions, all exercised strong pressure on an obsolete political structure that had been put in place based on a different set of criteria. From a political, administrative, and social point of view those were the reasons of the "military coup" of Goudi (1909). After that rebellion, Eleftherios Venizelos, leader of the Liberal Party became prime minister and proceeded with having the old Constitution of 1864 revised by the Second Revisionary Parliament. The pivotal points of the 1911 Constitutional reform were the enhanced protection of human rights (leading to the promulgation of "the public law of the Hellenes", which was the wording used at the time), the reinforcement of the Rule of Law and institutional modernization. With regard to the protection of individual rights the most noteworthy amendments to the Constitution of 1864 were a more effective protection of individual security, equality in taxation, the right to assemble and the inviolability of the domicile. Furthermore, the Constitution facilitated expropriation so as for land to be allocated to poor farmers, while at the same time guaranteeing judicial protection of property rights. Other important changes included the establishment of an Electoral Tribunal with a view to settling election disputes that ensued after general elections, the addition of new reasons and capacities for MP incompatibilities, the re-establishment of the Supreme Administrative Court as the highest administrative court, improved protection of judicial independence, job permanence for public servants and a mandatory military service. Finally, it was the first time that the Constitution made provision for mandatory and free education for all, while the process of Constitutional revision was simplified. Nonetheless the revolution of September 1922 resulted in the establishment of a Republic and the abolition of the Crown. The revolution was the outcome of a variety of domestic and international reasons such as the continuous conflicts of the political leadership with the palace, the catastrophic events in Asia Minor and the transformation of the geo-political situation in South East Europe. With the decisive contribution of Alexandros Papanastasiou the “4th Athens Constituent Assembly” abolished, in March 25 1922 the monarchy and established a Republic Democracy. The Constitution of 1927 Whilst the Fourth Constituent Assembly was working towards a new Constitution, on the 25th of June 1925 there was a coup by General Th. Pangalos, followed by a second one by Kondylis in 1926. After the fall of the dictatorship the "Parliament of the First Term" was elected, and eventually, adopted the Constitution of 1927. The most important changes made by the Revision of 1911, after the rise of Eleftherios Venizelos to the power, were the enhancement of individual freedoms ("the public law of the Hellenes") and of the Rule of Law, and the institutional modernization Whilst the Fourth Constitutional Assembly was working towards the completion of the new Constitution, the coup d'etat of General Th. Pangalos took place. After the fall of his dictatorship in 1926, the "Parliament of the First Term" was elected, which, finally, voted through the Constitution of 1927. This Constitution was particularly interesting both for its provisions on social rights and for the new political institutions it introduced in its organizational section. The most significant characteristic of the new Constitution of Greece was that it provided for an elected head of state, chosen by the Parliament and the Senate for a five-year term. The President of the Republic was politically unaccountable, he did not possess legislative authority and he could dissolve the Parliament with the approval of the Senate. The Greek Constitution of 1844 defined Greece as a constitutional monarchy,[3] providing for a bicameral parliament, consisting of a Chamber of Deputies and a Senate. The Greek Constitution of 1864 was somewhat more liberal, and transferred most of the real power to the parliament. In 1874 Charilaos Trikoupis published a manifesto entitled "Who's to blame?", naming King George I as the answer. Specifically, he condemned the king for bypassing parliamentary opinion in his selection of Prime Ministers. The article landed him briefly in jail, but also boosted his popularity significantly. A year later, on 8 May 1874 he mustered a parliamentary plurality and George reluctantly named him as Prime Minister. Thanks to Trikoupis' article, a new constitutional principle was recognized and implemented: the king was required to give the largest party in parliament first choice of forming a government. In 1911 Eleftherios Venizelos amended 54 of the 110 articles of the Constitution, trying to bring the constitution in line with his Liberal Party's principles. Nevertheless, the National schism of 1916 caused a huge constitutional crisis, as two governments were formed: one in Athens and one in Thessaloniki.

1821-1829: Greeks, tired of living under Turkish rule, win independence from the Ottoman Turks in war with help (especially naval) from France, Britain, and Russia. Approximately 200K killed. Greece left bankrupt, borrows from Rothschilds to try to pay debts.
1833: Installation of King Otto (1816-1867), son of King Ludwig of Bavaria. (Population of Greece approximately 800K)
1843 Sept: Greece becomes semi-constitutional monarchy after bloodless revolt forces Otto to accept it. Greece again declares bankruptcy.
1862 Oct: King Otto deposed by military. Leaves country.
1863: Prince William of Denmark installed as new King George I. George travels to Greece with Count Sponneck.
1863: Athens is conglomeration of villages with population 45K.
1864 May: Ionian Islands ceded to Greece by Britain.
1864 August: Constitution written by assembly and enacted at GI's urging. Greece becomes "crowned democracy."
1865: George I expels Sponneck and Prince Julius as advisors.
1864-1880: 9 general elections, 31 administrations.
1864-1868: George I visits all areas of Greece, never leaves country.
1866: George I does diplomacy, trying to have Crete placed under British control to avoid it spiralling into a war with Turkey. Cretans (who are mostly Greek Christians) unsuccessfully revolting vs. Ottomans, with funding from various Greeks and also the former King Otto.
1867 Oct: George marries Olga (age 16).
1868 Aug: their first child Constantine born.
1870: party of British tourists kidnapped and ransomed by Greek brigands for £25K.
1875: Trikoupis prevails upon George I to agree, from now on, to the principle of "didolomeni", which means that the Prime Minister from then on is always from the party with the plurality in Parliament. EXPLAIN??
1878: Cyprus ceded to Britain by Ottoman Empire.
1878: Another Cretan rebellion, but soon halted by British intervention.
1881: Thessaly and Arta region of Epirus ceded to Greece by Ottomans via European Power intervention.
1885: Prime Minister Deligiannis mobilizes the Greek Army because of Bulgarian revolt. Fearing modification of the Treaty of Berlin, the British Royal Navy blockades Greece.
1880-1914: Widespread unemployment and economic problems caused emigration of over 350K Greeks, mostly male, to USA (about 20% of Greek population).
1893 Aug: Corinth canal opens (after 11 year build).
1893 Dec: Prime Minister C.Trikoupis declares "Regretfully, we are bankrupt." This happened because of over-borrowing, but those loans resulted in useful infrastructure projects (railroads, canals) that ultimately paid off. Greek government surrenders its economic administration to International Financial Control, forced to impose extra levies on all transactions, reduce public spending, withdraw a great amount of money from circulation, work on social reforms and minimize corruption. The reforms and infrastructure worked: By 1910 the Greek economy was not only competitive but indeed one of the strongest in Europe, enabling it then to win territory during the Balkan Wars.
1896: First modern Olympics held in Athens, Constantine in charge.
1897: Crete has population 270K, most Christian and wanting union with Greece; also 70K Moslems wanting Turkey. They rebel. Greeks aid rebels. Greece refuses Turkish offer of autonomous administration in Crete, and refuses to withdraw Greek volunteers from Crete. Sultan of Turkey declares war on Greece. The Great Powers announce a blockade of Greece.
1897 April: The unprepared (and unwisely trying to invade Turkey) Greece loses 2-week "Greco-Turnish War"; must pay £4M indemnity to Turkey.
1897: Crete gains autonomy with Prince George of Greece as first governor under international supervision.
1898: George I survives assassination attempt uninjured.
PM Theodoros Deligiannis assassinated.
1908 July: "Young Turks" officers revolt vs Sultan of Turkey, in Macedonia.
1908 Oct: Cretan assembly declares union with Greece. Accepted by Great Powers by 1913.
1909: Officers revolt("Military League") after decade of instability caused by 1897 defeat and inspired by Young Turks, topple weak Greek government, impose reforms, then dissolve and invite E.Venizelos to be Prime Minister.
1910 Jan: Greek constitutional revision undertaken after extortion by "military league," a group of reformist/rebellious army officers.
1910 March: Greek army violently suppresses a protest in Kileler by the serfs of Thessaly for agricultural reform.
1910 Oct: Venizelos becomes PM.
1912: Venizelos has arranged alliances with Bulgaria & Serbia, while Constatine has improved Greece's armed forces, both readying Greece for war. Which happens. ("First Balkan War.") The "Balkan League" of Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece declare war on Turkey and drive Turks out of Europe. Greece gains Macedonia and Epirus. Greece now 13% minorities including 370K Turks and 104K Bulgars.
1913 March: George I assassinated by madman.
1913 June: Bulgaria attacks Greece, but rebuffed by Serbia+Greece ("Second Balkan war"). Result of the wars was, Greece gained a lot of territory: S.Epirus, Macedonia, Crete, Samos, Lesbos, Chios, W.Thrace; resulting Greece ×1.7 in size.
1914: Archduke of Serbia assassinated, setting off World War I. Constantine wants Greece to stay neutral. Venizilos wants to patake to grab the remains of the Ottoman empire.
1914-1923: Turks undertake genocide of Greeks living in Anatolia (now W. Turkey).
1915 Venizelos+Constantine I now hate each other. ("National schism.")
1915: The British withdraw from Dardanelles admitting failure. Constantine I dissolves Venizelos's parliament.
1916 Sept: Venizelos returns to his native Crete.
1916 August: Followers of Venizelos set up provisional state in Northern Greece, with aim of reclaiming the lost regions in Macedonia, effectively splitting Greece into two.
1917: After diplomatic negotiations and an armed confrontation in Athens between Entente and royalist forces King Constantine I forced to abdicate. George II was regarded as unacceptable successor. Both flee. Thus handed throne to the comparatively untrained and unprepared Alexander (second son Of Constantine).
1917 May-July: Venizelos returns to Greece, assumes control, and Greece declares war on Central Powers; allies itself with Britain, France, Italy.
1917 August: The Great Fire of Thessaloniki destroys most of the city.
1920: Treaty of Sevres awards Greece Thrace, all Aegean islands except Dodecanese; but never ratified. Greece continues to grab & try to hold Turkish territory e.g. Smyrna. Constantine I resumes throne but again abdicates 1921 and dies 1923, George II taking over.
1919-1922: Greco-Turkish war.
1922: Ottoman empire collapses.
1920 Oct: King Alexander dies from infection after being bit by pet monkey.
1920 Nov: Venizelos loses elections despite a slight majority voting for his party; leaves country.
1920 Dec: Greeks vote for King Constantine's return
1922: Greek army (invading Turkey, reached 65 km of Ankara) routed and Greece evacuates Smyrna. Smyrna is burned and 100K Greeks perish.
1922 Sept: Military coup in reaction to the loss in Asia Minor led by Colonels Plastiras and Gonatas creating the Revolutionary Government results in abdication by King Constantine. Prince George enthroned as King George II.
1922 Nov: "The Six" – five former ministers including the Prime Minister Gounaris, Stratou and the Commander in Chief Hadjianesti, executed by firing squad, blamed for the loss in Asia Minor.
1923 Jan: Convention signed by Greece and Turkey for the compulsory exchange of minority populations except the Turks in W.Thrace and the 250K Greeks in Constantinople. This causes enormous refugee influx, with about 1.5M Greeks arriving from Asia Minro as part of the population exchange.
1923 July: Treaty of Lausanne signed ending Greco-Turkish War. Eastern Thrace, islands of Tenedos and Imbros reverted to Turkey.
1923 Oct: Failed royalist military coup in Macedonia against Venizelos led by Metaxas causes Revolutionary Government to request King George II to leave Greece until elections could be held on the monarchy.
1923 Dec: Venizelos' Liberal Party wins the elections. Constitutional rule restored with Venizelos as PM and Revolutionary Government stepping down. Venizelos resigns after a month over monarchy question and numerous governments form and fall until 1928.
1924 March-April: Plebescite resulted in 69% for establishing republic. Monarchy abolished. Republic declared. Pavlos Kountouriotis becomes the first President of Greece.
1924 Oct: Failed military coup.
1925 March-June: Political instability and general unrest among urban workers, especially the refugees, brings on a coup by General Pangalos. President Kountouriotis resigns.
1925 Oct: Brief war with Bulgaria.
1926 August: Pangalos' economic and diplomatic mishandling of national affairs brings coup, overthrowing him, by General Kondylis. Caretaker government installed.
1926 Nov: Elections resulted in almost even split of Liberals(Venizelists) and Republicans vs Populists. Ten Communist deputies elected, 8 from Macedonia.

1928-1932: Liberals win elections, Venizelos returns to govern Greece. Instituted educational reforms. Built many primary schools, made education less classical and more practical, established demotic Greek in the schools.
1928: Exchange of population increased Greece's numbers by 3.6M to 6.2M inhabitants. Population of Athens doubles between 1907 and 1928.
1924-1935: Chaos: 23 changes of govt, one dictatorship, 13 coups.
1935: Monarchy restored. But King George II soon dies.

Infrastructure improvements: During 1857-1869 the "Athens & Piraeus Railway" was built, the first in the land (parts of it also became the second-oldest underground metro system in the world, after London). In 1881, Trikoupis embarked on a government project to build a network of about 500km of rail, ultimately completed 25 years later (20 years slower than planned). By 1909 there were 1606km.

The canal cutting through Greece at Corinth (6.4 km long) at sea level was a great engineering feat begun in 1882 and completed in 1893. (Strangely enough it no longer has much commercial importance as of year 2016, despite shortcutting what otherwise would be a 700km journey, because it is too narrow for most modern ships forcing them to traverse it in only one direction.)

Elections: 1865, 1868, 1869, 1872, 1873, 1874, 1875, 1879, 1881, 1885, 1887, 1890, 1892, 1895, 1899, 1902, 1905, 1906, August-1910, November-1910, 1912, May-1915, December-1915, 1920, 1923, 1926

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