< George Papandreou

George Papandreou (senior)

George Papandreou (in Greek Georgios Papandreou or Γεώργιος Παπανδρέου) (18 February 1888 - 1 November 1968) was a Greek politician. He was born at Kalentzi, in Achaea in southern Greece. As a young man, he became involved in politics as a supporter of the Liberal leader Eleftherios Venizelos, who made him Governor of Lesbos after the Balkan War of 1912. He married a Polish woman, Sofia Mineyko, and their son Andreas Papandreou was born at Chios in 1919.

During the political crisis surrounding Greece's entry into World War I, Papandreou was one of Venizelos's closest supporters against the pro-German King Constantine I. When Venizelos was forced to flee Athens, Papandreou accompanied him to Crete, and then went to Lesbos, where he mobilised anti-monarchist supporters in the islands and rallied support for Venizelos's insurgent pro-British government in Thessaloniki. In 1921 he narrowly escaped assassination.

Papandreou served as a Venizelist Member of Parliament, as Interior Minister in 1923, and in several other government posts during the Republic of 1924–-1935. A lifelong opponent of the Greek monarchy, he was exiled in 1936 by the Greek royalist dictator Ioannis Metaxas. Following the German occupation of Greece in World War II, he joined the predominately Venizelist government-in-exile based in Egypt (with British support, and king George II as official head of state), and in 1944-45 he served as Prime Minister. During the later 1940s he saw the Greek Communist Party as the main threat to democracy and served in a number of cabinets between 1946 and 1952 while the Greek Civil War was raging.

George Papandreou as a young man (seated left), and his wife, Sofia Mineyko (seated right), with other members of the Mineyko family, about 1918

Papandreou spent the rest of the 1950s in opposition, while the conservatives were in the ascendant and the left was repressed by the royalist controlled armed forces. In 1961 Papandreou revived Greek liberalism by founding the Center Union Party, a confederation of old liberal Venizelists and dissatisfied conservatives. Papandreou's party won the elections of November 1963. His progressive policies as premier aroused much opposition in conservative circles, as did the prominent role played by his son Andreas, whose policies were seen as being considerably left of center.

George Papandreou and Eleftherios Venizelos on the Acropolis

He was against the Zurich agreement which led to the foundation of the republic of Cyprus. Following clashes between the two communities in Cyprus, his government sent a Greek army division to Cyprus.

King Constantine II openly opposed Papandreou's government and there were frequent ultra-rightist plots in the Army which destabilised the government. Finally the King engineered a split in the Centre Union and in July 1965 he dismissed the government following a dispute over control of the Ministry of Defence. After the April 1967 military coup by the Colonels' junta led by George Papadopoulos, Papandreou was arrested. He died under house arrest in November 1968. His funeral became the occasion for a large anti-government demonstration.

Georgios Papandreou was never referred to as "Senior" during his lifetime. During the Junta and after his life he was often referred to as "Geros" (old man, a name indicating respect in Greece). Since his grandson George A. Papandreou entered politics, most current Greek writers use "Georgios" to refer to the grandfather, and "Giorgos" to refer to the grandson.

Preceded by:
Sophoklis Venizelos
Prime Minister of Greece
Succeeded by:
Nikolaos Plastiras
Preceded by:
Stylianos Mavromichalis
Prime Minister of Greece
Succeeded by:
Ioannis Paraskevoloupos
Preceded by:
Ioannis Paraskevoloupos
Prime Minister of Greece
Succeeded by:
Georgios Athanasiadis-Novas

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