Costas Simitis

Constantinos Georgiou Simitis (Κωνσταντίνος Σημίτης)(born June 23, 1936), usually known as Costas Simitis or Kostas Simitis, was Prime Minister of Greece and leader of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) from 1996 to 2004.

Biography

Costas Simitis was born in Piraeus to George Simitis, Professor at the School of Economic and Commercial Sciences and his wife Fani Christopoulos. He studied Law at the University of Marburg in Germany and economics at the London School of Economics. Simitis is married to Daphne Arcadiou and has two daughters, Fiona and Marilena.

Political activity before 1981

In 1965 he returned to Greece and was one of the founders of the political research group "Alexandros Papanastasiou." In 1967 this group was transformed into Democratic Defense, an organization opposed to the Greek military regime.

Simitis escaped abroad in order to avoid being jailed and became a member of the Pan-Hellenic Struggle Movement (PAK), while he became a university lecturer in Germany. He returned to Athens in 1974 and was one of the co-founders of PASOK, led by Andreas Papandreou. In 1977 he took up a lecturer's post at the Panteion University.

Being a minister

Although Simitis was not a candidate for the Greek Parliament in the 1981 elections, he was nevertheless appointed Minister of Agriculture in the first PASOK government of that year. Following the 1985 elections, in which he was elected to the Parliament, he became Minister of National Economy; he undertook an unpopular stabilization program, trying to curb inflation and reduce deficits, but resigned his post in 1987 because he felt that his policies were being undermined. In 1993 he took over the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, but in 1995 he again resigned from the ministry and the party's Executive Bureau after a disagreement with Prime Minister Papandreou.

Becoming President of PASOK

On January 18, 1996 on the resignation of Papandreou through ill-health Simitis was elected Prime Minister. Simitis took office on January 22. However Papandreou remained leader of PASOK for the next several months, until his death, on June 23, just before a party conference would select the party's vice-president; after Papandreou's death, the conference would elect the new Party President. Simitis was elected leader of PASOK on June 30.

Prime Minister

Simitis then led the party in the national elections of September 22, 1996, gaining a mandate in his own right. He also narrowly won the national election of 2000. Although he was respected throughout Europe, in Greece Simitis was regarded by some Greeks as a rather dull technocrat, lacking the charisma of Papandreou.

On January 7, 2004 Simitis announced that he would resign as party president and would not be a candidate for prime minister in the next elections. He had been Prime Minister of Greece for 8 consecutive years, more than anyone else in modern Greek political history. On January 8 he called elections for the position of party president to be held on February 8. Simitis was succeeded as PASOK leader by then-Minister of Foreign Affairs George Papandreou. Despite Papandreou's considerable personal popularity, PASOK lost the March 7 elections to the centre-right New Democracy party.

Policy and Legacy

Simitis is largely known in Greece for his political philosophy which is known as Eksynchronismos ("modernization") which focuses on extensive public investment and infrastructure works as well as economic and labor reforms. Simitis is credited with overcoming harsh problems of the Greek economy and thus achieving the addmitance of Greece into the Eurozone. Supporters, such as Theodoros Pangalos, a prominent PASOK MP, have compared Simitis to Greek figurehead reformer politicians of the past such as Charilaos Trikoupis and Eleftherios Venizelos, who are commonly considered as great reformers of Greece. [1]

While PASOK traditionalists disliked his move away from more orthodox norms of Democratic socialism, and also his relative moderation on issues such as the Cyprus dispute and the FYROM name dispute, his supporters saw both of these as positive elements of the eksynchronismos movement that Simitis was seen as spearheading.

In 7 March 2004 New Democracy won the elections and Costas Caramanlis succedeed Simitis in the office of Prime Minister. The new Caramanlis administration conducted a financial audit that accused the Simitis administration of having falsified Greece's macroeconomic statistics, on the basis of which the European Union approved Greece's accession to the Eurozone in 2001.



Prime Minister of Greece 1996–-2004

Preceded by: Andreas Papandreou

Succeeded by: Costas Caramanlis

Former US President B. Clinton and Costas Simitis (Source)

C. Simitis with Prime Minister Tony Blair

Costas Simitis and US President George Bush

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