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Venizelism (Greek : Βενιζελισμός) was one of the major political movements in Greece from the 1900s until the mid-1970s.

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Greece republic in Southeast Europe

Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, self-identified and historically known as Hellas, is a country located in Southern and Southeast Europe, with a population of approximately 11 million as of 2016. Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki.


Main ideas

Named after Eleftherios Venizelos, the key characteristics of Venizelism were:

Eleftherios Venizelos Greek politician

Eleftherios Kyriakou Venizelos was an eminent Greek leader of the Greek national liberation movement and a charismatic statesman of the early 20th century, remembered for his contribution in the expansion of Greece and promotion of liberal-democratic policies. As leader of the Liberal Party, he was elected several times, in total eight, as Prime Minister of Greece, serving from 1910 to 1920 and from 1928 to 1933. Venizelos had such profound influence on the internal and external affairs of Greece that he is credited with being "the maker of modern Greece", and is still widely known as the "Ethnarch".

Greek nationalism

Greek nationalism refers to the nationalism of Greeks and Greek culture. As an ideology, Greek nationalism originated and evolved in pre-modern times. It became a major political movement beginning in the 18th century, which culminated in the Greek War of Independence (1821–1829) against the Ottoman Empire. It became a potent movement in Greece shortly prior to, and during World War I under the leadership of nationalist figure Eleftherios Venizelos who pursued the Megali Idea and managed to liberate Greece in the Balkan Wars and after World War I, briefly annexed the region of İzmir before it was retaken by Turkey. Today Greek nationalism remains important in the Greco-Turkish dispute over Cyprus.

Megali Idea irredentist nationalist movement aiming to establish a Greek state that would encompass all historically ethnic Greek-inhabited areas, including Greeks under Ottoman rule and regions inhabited by ancient Greeks (Balkans, Anatolia, Cyprus)

The Megali Idea was an irredentist concept of Greek nationalism that expressed the goal of establishing a Greek state that would encompass all historically ethnic Greek-inhabited areas, including the large Greek populations that were still under Ottoman rule after the end of the Greek War of Independence (1821–1828) and all the regions that traditionally belonged to Greeks in ancient times.

Liberal democracy form of government

Liberal democracy is a liberal political ideology and a form of government in which representative democracy operates under the principles of classical liberalism. Also called Western democracy, it is characterised by elections between multiple distinct political parties, a separation of powers into different branches of government, the rule of law in everyday life as part of an open society, a market economy with private property and the equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and political freedoms for all people. To define the system in practice, liberal democracies often draw upon a constitution, either formally written or uncodified, to delineate the powers of government and enshrine the social contract. After a period of sustained expansion throughout the 20th century, liberal democracy became the predominant political system in the world.


Liberal Party

Eleftherios Venizelos Eleutherios Benizelos.jpg
Eleftherios Venizelos

Venizelos' liberal party ruled Greece from 1910 until 1916. That year, determined to enter World War I on the entente side, Venizelos rebelled against the king and formed a provisional government in the north. He regained full control of the country and ruled until losing the 1920 elections.

The Liberal Party, also the National Progressive Centre Union since 1952, was a major political party in Greece during the early-to-mid 20th century. It was founded in August 1910 by Eleftherios Venizelos and went on to dominate Greek politics for a considerable number of years until its decline following the Second World War. Among its most well-known members, apart from Venizelos, were Alexandros Papanastasiou, Nikolaos Plastiras, Georgios Papandreou and Konstantinos Mitsotakis.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

National Schism dispute between Greek King Constantine I (who preferred neutrality in WW1) and Prime Minister E. Venizelos (who preferred joining the Allies); Venizelos resigned in 1915; Constantine abdicated, Venizelos returned, and Greece joined the Allies in 1917

The National Schism was a series of disagreements between King Constantine I and Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos regarding the foreign policy of Greece in the period of 1910–1922 of which the tipping point was whether Greece should enter World War I. Venizelos was in support of the Allies and wanted Greece to join the war on their side, while the pro-German King wanted Greece to remain neutral, which would favor the plans of the Central Powers.

After a crisis period (including two short-lived pro-Venizelist military governments after Nikolaos Plastiras 1923 coup) the liberals returned to power from 1928 until 1932. Venizelists Sophoklis Venizelos and George Papandreou formed the core of the Greek government in exile during the Axis Occupation of Greece (1941–1944), and held power a number of times in the 1950s.

Nikolaos Plastiras soldier and Prime Minister of Greece

Nikolaos Plastiras was a Greek general and politician, who served thrice as Prime Minister of Greece. A distinguished soldier known for his personal bravery, he became famous as "The Black Rider" during the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, where he commanded the 5/42 Evzone Regiment. After the Greek defeat in the war, along with other Venizelist officers he launched the 11 September 1922 Revolution that deposed King Constantine I of Greece and his government. The military-led government ruled until January 1924, when power was handed over to an elected National Assembly, which later declared the Second Hellenic Republic. In the interwar period, Plastiras remained a devoted Venizelist and republican. Trying to avert the rise of the royalist People's Party and the restoration of the monarchy, he led two coup attempts in 1933 and 1935, both of which failed, forcing him to exile in France.

Centre Union

Georgios Papandreou, leader of the Centre Union. Georgios A. Papandreou 1.jpg
Georgios Papandreou, leader of the Centre Union.

Georgios Papandreou created the Centre Union party in 1961, as a coalition of Venizelists and progressive conservatives. In 1963 the party was elected and held power until 1965, when its right wing broke ranks in the events known as the Apostasia . The current Union of Centrists claims to be the ideological continuation of the old party Centre Union.

Georgios Papandreou Prime Minister of Greece

Georgios Papandreou was a Greek politician, the founder of the Papandreou political dynasty. He served three terms as prime minister of Greece. He was also deputy prime minister from 1950–1952, in the governments of Nikolaos Plastiras and Sofoklis Venizelos and served numerous times as a cabinet minister, starting in 1923, in a political career that spanned more than five decades.

The Centre Union was a Greek political party, created in 1961 by Georgios Papandreou.

The terms Apostasia or Iouliana or the Royal Coup are used to describe the political crisis in Greece that centred on the resignation, on 15 July 1965, of Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou and the appointment, by King Constantine II, of successive prime ministers from Papandreou's own party, the Center Union, to replace him. Those defectors from the Center Union were branded, by Papandreou's sympathisers, as the Apostates ("renegades"). The Apostasia heralded a prolonged period of political instability, which weakened the fragile post-Civil War order and ultimately led to the establishment of a military regime in 1967.

Centrist Democratic Union

After the 19671974 Junta, Venizelists formed the Centre Union – New Forces party, which then evolved into the Union of the Democratic Centre (Greek : ΕΔΗΚ). While the Venizelist legacy was still popular, election results were disappointing as the abolition of the monarchy, the dilution of support for Greek nationalism after the seven years of the junta and the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and Karamanlis' move towards the political centre had blurred the differences between the liberals and their former conservative opponents, while the socialist PASOK party was gaining support at the left side of the spectrum.


Although the image of Venizelos is still very popular in Greece today, Venizelism is no longer a major force in Greek politics. Venizelos' prestige however and his ideology's connotations of republicanism, and progressive reforms means that most mainstream political forces claim his political heritage. There are few explicitly "Venizelist" movements today in Greece. In the 2004 elections for the European Parliament, the leading Venizelist party was the Union of Centrists, gaining only 0.54% of the Greek popular vote. An attempted revival of the original Liberal Party, under the same name, was founded in the 1980s by Venizelos' grandson, Nikitas Venizelos.


Against Venizelos' policy were united politicians of different political orientation during the 1910s. Some of their common points was the criticism against Venizelos' extreme philo-Entente policy during World War I, their disagreement concerning his policy about the Megali idea and its results (regarding the relations with Turkey and the Greeks who were still under Ottoman sovereignty) and later the population exchange. Another common point of the Antivenizelists was a hesitation about the country's social and economical modernization.

See also

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