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Women in Greek politics

09 March 2014 / 18:03:54  GRReporter
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Each year on 8 March, International Women's Day, the struggle of women for equal rights is remembered via publications, speeches and events. Greek women fought for more than 120 years so that they could have equal rights where decisions were made.

The first notices about the right to vote are from the late 19th century in "The Journal of Women," which was published by militant feminist Callirrhoe Parren-Siganou and employed only women. However, it took more than 40 years before a certain category of Greek women (literate, over 30) could vote for mayor in 1930.

As for the right to vote and run as candidate for parliamentary elections (Finns were the first in Europe who acquired this right in 1906) it happened much later in Greece, in June 1952, during the Government of Nikolaos Plastiras. However, in the November elections the same year, women did not vote because they were not informed.

The first woman MP and the first woman mayor

The first women's vote took place in January 1953, when the first woman MP was elected. This was Eleni Skoura at the local elections for the replacement of a deceased MP. At the time, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s grandmother Virginia Zanna also participated in the elections with the Liberal Party, but ranked third after Eleni Skoura and Yiannis Pasalidis.

Greek women in the country voted for the first time in 1956 when the newly formed party of Kostas Karamanlis National Radical Union EPE won. At these elections only two women were elected in the constituency of Athens - Lina Tsaldari of EPE, who later became the first woman minister in Greece, as well as Vasso Tanasekou of the Democratic Union.

Lina Tsaldari, the first woman minister in Greece

The first woman mayor, Maria Desi was elected in Corfu in 1956.

From January 1953 to April 1967, when the junta of colonels came to power, elections were held six times and women were elected 13 times in total. During the junta (1967-1974), parliamentary work was discontinued, and colonels did not use any women in the government.

Thereafter women's participation in political life increased as did the percentage of women in the Greek parliament and government.

Melina Mercouri

After August 1974 until the elections in 2000 the percentage of women in Parliament remained below 10%. It was not until 2000 when 31 women MPs (10.33%) were elected. Their number increased by 4 more who entered parliament because of replacement.

A record of female participation was marked at the last three elections. In October 2009, 52 women (17.3%) were elected, while another 8 entered parliament because of replacement. In May 2012, 56 women (18.6%) were elected, and a new record was set in June 2013 with 63 women MPs (21%).

European elections

At the 7 European elections which have been held to date, 30 mandates were won by women of the total 168 mandates (17.8%). In 2009, 7 Greek women were elected in the European Parliament of Greece's total 22 mandates, or 31.8%.

In the government

The first Greek woman involved in the government as minister was Lina Tsaldari, who became minister of public security in 1956 in the government of Karamanlis. Thereafter, there were other women ministers, but they accounted for only a very small percentage. Unforgettable Melina Mercouri was minister of culture for many years and was the only woman in the government of Andreas Papandreou, like Tsaldari in the government of Karamanlis. Later, women ministers also included Vasso Papandreou (Minister of Development (1996-1999), Minister of the Interior of the State Administration (1999-2001) and of the Environment (2001-2004)), Anna Psarouda-Benaki (Minister of Culture and Justice), Marietta Yianakou (Minister of Health and Education), Louka Katzeli (Minister of Economy and Employment), Fani Palli- Petralia (Minister of Tourism and Employment), Dora Bakoyannis (Minister of Culture and Foreign Affairs), Elisabetta Papazoi (Minister of the Aegean and Culture), Catherine Badzeli (Minister of Agriculture), Mariliza Xenoyanakopoulou (Health Minister), Tina Barbili (Environmental Minister), Anna Diamantopoulou (Minister of Education), and Olga Kefaloyani (Minister of Tourism). Two women - Angeliki Kiaou and Tatiana Karapanioti - were ministers of education and culture in the caretaker government of Pikramenos.

Dora Bakoyannis

To date, only six prime ministers have trusted women, and since 1990 the number of women ministers has not exceeded 4 in any government, except for the government of Constantinos Mitsotakis. The record was marked in 2009 in the government of George Papandreou, when there were five women ministers out of 37 members of the government (24.3%).

In high political positions

Aleka Papariga

The first women in high positions were in the political left. Male dominance was violated by Aleka Papariga, who was elected General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in 1990. 19 days later, Maria Damanaki was chosen as head of Synaspismos (left coalition), but stayed in this position for just two years until 1993, when Synaspismos did not enter parliament. In contrast, Papariga was the leader of her party for 22 years.

Tags: women in politics Minister MP Chairman of a party Melina Mercouri Callirrhoe Parren Eleni Skoura Lina Tsaldari Aleka Papariga Dora Bakoyannis Anna Psarouda-Benaki
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