Greek politics have never been easy to understand. How complex they can be are detailed in the 2018 Greek documentary “Searching for Andreas: Political Leadership in Times of Crisis” available until March 29th through the Hellenic Film Society USA https://hellenicfilmusa.org/
I have taken 5 pages of notes on this film and I don’t want to spoil the story nor do I want you to nod off.
For Greek political and history buffs this is a do not miss film.
For novices you might wish to say Greek politics has been rough and tumble since the 40’s and until recently with the election of Kyriakos Mitsotakis in 2019. Greece was occupied by Germany from 1941-44. Then the Metaxas dictatorship from 1936-41. Then a Civil War from 1946-49. Then another dictatorship from 1967-74 under Colonel George Papadopoulos. The far-right new Dawn in the 90’s until 2019.
Andreas Papandreou was born on the Greek Island of Chios in 1919 where his father George was the Governor of the Aegean Islands. George later became Greek Prime Minister on three separate occasions.
Andreas enrolled in the Athens Law School from 1937 until 1938 when he was arrested by the Metaxas dictatorship and left for the United States where he obtained a PHD in philosophy and economics. He then taught economics at the university level. Andreas divorced his wife and married an American woman with which he had three children. He returned to Greece in 1963 and his father George, newly elected Prime Minister, appointed Andreas as a Minister to the Prime Minister and Alternative Minister of Economic Co-ordination. Andreas was arrested in the Papadopoulos coup of 67 and left for the United States and Canada. In September of 1971 he returned to Greece and founded the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). Andreas was a three-time Prime Minister of Greece in the late 1980’s and mid nineties.
All said and done Andreas was a perplexing figure many seeing him as a populist hero and socialist reformer. Others vilified him for the same reason. He did create a national health care system in his first term as Prime Minister (1981-85) but it was a series of reforms that led to ballooning state deficits and overextended banks on the verge of collapse.
At the end of his third term as Prime Minister (1993-96) he was removed as leader of PASOK in 1996 and died in June of 1996. His son George A. Papandreou become a PASOK Prime Minister from 2009-2011. Unfortunately, he walked into the Economic collapse of Greece that required three “bail outs” in 2010, 2012 and 2015.
The question is was Andreas a charismatic populist who introduced social reforms that bankrupted Greece? Did his time as Prime Minister cultivate a cult of populism?
As a political scientist states at the end of the film Greeks should not look for a political Messiah but instead focus on checks and balances in the system and reforms in the educational and judicial system that will affect the entire political system.
This 95-minute 2018 film is directed by Harris Mylonas and Theo Prodromidis and is in Greek with English subtitles.
The film is one of ten celebrating 200 years of Greek independence available through the Hellenic Film Society USA and runs until March 29th.
You can watch the trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKha7qmiHvE