Bibliography on Pary Politics in GREECE, 1950-1962

George Antunes


Greece can justifiably be called the forgotten country of cross-national social science. While ancient Greece has been the object of a great deal of attention, scholars have evidenced little interest in Greek politics prior to the 1967 coup. Most of the work dealing with the social and political phenomena of modern Greece focuses on the period 1945-1950, when Communist guerillas almost gained control of the country in a bitter civil war. The small body of scholarly material covering the period 1950-1962 tends to dwell mainly on the after-effects of the civil war and the position of the Communists in the post civil war society.

In spite of the critical lack of literature dealing with analysis of Greek political parties during 1950 1962, 45 documents were identified for the file. The bulk of this literature focused mainly on day to-day political events and election results. Although political parties are frequently mentioned in this context, they tend to be treated in a superficial and tangential fashion. Alderfer, Doumas, and Trombetas probe beyond the descriptive accounting of events in an attempt to offer insight into contemporary Greek political life. But, in these attempts to analyze political life, political parties per se are not the specific object of inquiry and the information, though of high quality, is minimal.

Since there are so few sources in English on Greek parties and politics, the possibility of employing Greek language sources was considered. However, the fact that very few social scientists are able to read Greek means that such material placed in the ICPP information system would be, in effect, unusable. It was decided, therefore, to limit our files to English language sources (although one French document was later included). The wisdom of this decision was later reinforced by Professor George Kousoulas of Howard University, who pointed out in personal communication that as of 1967, "there has been no major scientific study of Greek democratic parties for the period 1950-1962, even in Greek," and that any Greek language material would have to be gleaned from newspaper and periodical articles.

The poverty of the literature dictated the bibliographic strategy. First, it was obvious that most of the data would have to be extracted from secondary and tertiary sources which focused on topics only minimally concerned with political parties but which happened to contain some information about parties. Secondly, it would be necessary to make an exhaustive search of the literature to locate such articles. Finally, an extensive perusal of these sources would be necessary to determine which parts of the text would merit inclusion in the information system. The bibliographic search for material on Greek political parties included examination of the major general and social science bibliographic references as well as contact with scholars of the Greek political scene. In addition to Professor G. Kousoulas, other scholars consulted were Professors George Arnakis, P. Allan Dionisopoulos, C.L. Doumas, and Keith Legg.

Material Processed into ICPP Information Files

Our literature search disclosed 45 documents that were relevant to party politics in Greece during 1950-1962. A total of 509 pages were read and indexed from these documents. The accompanying table presents a description of the major indexing categories and their frequency of use.

Because of the extreme instability of Greek political life, most of the literature reflects a crisis election orientation. One result of this is a tendency to report the actions, opinions, and pronouncements of party leaders. This is undoubtedly reinforced by the apparent importance of personalismo in the Greek political system. Party cohesion seems to depend more on the personal charisma of a party leader than on a set of principles held in common by the members themselves. The result is an emphasis on and the generation of much information about the political positions of party leaders. Code 360 (party leaders and officials), is the one most frequently used. Note that code 300 is used only 18 times, while 310 and 320 are used once and twice, respectively, and 330 is not used at all. Studies concerned with party congresses, the activities of local and regional parties, or the distribution of attitudes among rank and file members might have altered the preponderance of 360 codes - if they had been obtainable.

Code 640 (political norms and attitudes) is the second most frequent code. This is mainly due to those documents which are basically compendiums of public opinion data, interspersed with socio economic and ethnographic data, to support inferences about attitudes of Greeks where survey data are scanty. Most of the remaining uses of code 640 stem from the crisis and election orientation of most of the literature. Authors reporting on the state of the nation following an election or a national crisis usually include an evaluation of the "mood" of the people, i.e., a guess about the distribution of opinions in the population. Data of this type are indexed as 640.

The frequent use of the 830 code (interparty competition) and the 840 code (interparty cooperation) can also be related to the event orientation of the literature. Almost all government crises in Greece between 1950 and 1962 were marked by the breakup of the ruling coalition. Coalition disintegration is coded as 830, and most of the 830 codes index passages describing the failure of coalition. Similarly, the 840 code is used to indicate resolution of a crisis by the formation of a new coalition. It should be noted, however, that the 840 code also indicates the formation of pre election coalitions.

Again reflecting the news event focus of the literature, code 530 is used 98 times. The issue orientation of parties is reported for each election of government crisis. Frequently, the 530 code is used to indicate policy pronouncements of party leaders when they are not speaking as individuals but as spokesmen for their party. In this general vein, code 680 (government structure and political history) is used 96 times. Most of the 680 codes are assigned to passages which give a capsule summary of recent political history in order to set a news event in perspective. Much of Greek political life centered upon the electoral system which shifted back and forth between proportional representation and single member district plurality election, prompting heavy usage of 620 (electoral system). A new election law was written for each election, and many authors devote considerable effort to speculating upon the probable effects of each change of law.

In terms of overall categories, 3--, 6--, and 8-- codes constitute a majority of all codes used, indicating an emphasis on government activity rather than party activity. There are numerous references in the literature to government activities and policies, public opinion about government activities, opinions and positions of party leaders, and national elections. There are very few references to party organization, party activities, party size, or the distribution of socio-economic and attitude variables among members of the various parties.

Some Observations on the State of the Literature

In terms of party content, the literature can be characterized as being deficient in nearly every respect. Almost no data exist on party structure, party organization, party membership, party activity; and there is only a small amount of information on party goals and ideology. The restricted range of subject matter is matched by the poor quality of most of the literature. The second table shows the distribution of quality control codes into major categories. The numbers in the table indicate the number of articles placed in that rank for a particular quality category.

Even though several of the documents unearthed in the bibliographic search were judged to be of poor quality, they are included in the bibliography simply because no better sources exist. Most of the literature on Greek politics and political parties can be loosely divided on the basis of quality into three types: (1) the news item, (2) the descriptive summary of current events, (3) the source written on other aspects of Greek society but containing tangential references to political life.

Election results, cabinet shuffles, policy statements by government leaders are the usual content of the news item. As might be expected, this type of article is minimally useful. The descriptive summary is also usually prompted by a news event, but the content involves greater depth and scope than the news item. At their best these descriptive articles are examples of good journalism, but all suffer from a current events orientation. There are no footnotes, no theory, no systematic description, no quantification (except for election results), no propositions, no analysis, and no substantive inferences. Sources which are only tangentially concerned with Greek politics are apt to provide the highest quality material if only because an attempt at scholarship has been made. Traditional data sources are used and cited, and there is an effort to analyze and synthesize. These do not, however, provide extensive coverage of political parties.

In summary, not only is the literature deficient on political parties in Greece, but an entire range of phenomena which might be studied by political scientists is nearly untouched. Almost all aspects of Greek party politics require scholarly investigation.

1 Later studies, published too late for inclusion in our microfilm information file, gave greater attention to political parties. A prime example is Keith Legg's comprehensive analysis, Politics in Modern Greece (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1969).