Venizelism was one of the major political movements in Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 from the 1900s until the mid 1970s.


Named after Eleftherios Venizelos
Eleftherios Venizelos
Eleftherios Venizelos was an eminent Greek revolutionary, a prominent and illustrious statesman as well as a charismatic leader in the early 20th century. Elected several times as Prime Minister of Greece and served from 1910 to 1920 and from 1928 to 1932...

, the key characteristics of Venizelism were:
  • Opposition to Monarchy
    A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

    . The struggle between Venizelists and pro-monarchist conservatives defined Greek politics during most of the 20th century.

  • Support of the Megali Idea
    Megali Idea
    The Megali Idea was an irredentist concept of Greek nationalism that expressed the goal of establishing a Greek state that would encompass all ethnic Greek-inhabited areas, since large Greek populations after the restoration of Greek independence in 1830 still lived under Ottoman rule.The term...

    , the aggressive pursuit of incorporation of all Greek-majority lands into Greece. It was the annexation of Crete
    Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

     into Greece that propelled Venizelos (a Cretan himself) into Greek politics.

  • Alliances with western democratic countries (especially with United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

    , France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

     against Germany in World War I
    World War I
    World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

     and World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

    , and the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     against the Soviet Union
    Soviet Union
    The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

     during the Cold War
    Cold War
    The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

    ). The struggle against King Constantine
    Constantine I of Greece
    Constantine I was King of Greece from 1913 to 1917 and from 1920 to 1922. He was commander-in-chief of the Hellenic Army during the unsuccessful Greco-Turkish War of 1897 and led the Greek forces during the successful Balkan Wars of 1912–1913, in which Greece won Thessaloniki and doubled in...

     to enter World War I
    World War I
    World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

     on the Triple Entente
    Triple Entente
    The Triple Entente was the name given to the alliance among Britain, France and Russia after the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907....

     side was Venizelos' most dramatic (and later, most celebrated) action.

  • Protectionist
    Protectionism is the economic policy of restraining trade between states through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, restrictive quotas, and a variety of other government regulations designed to allow "fair competition" between imports and goods and services produced domestically.This...

    economic policies.

Venizelists have also been frequently described as nationalists, although in this attribute they did not differ much from their conservative opponents.

Liberal Party

Venizelos' liberal party
Liberal Party (Greece)
The Liberal Party was one of the major Greek political parties of the early 20th century.- History :Founded as the Xipoliton party in Crete , its early leaders were Kostis Mitsotakis and Eleftherios Venizelos...

 ruled Greece from 1910 until 1916. That year, determined to enter WWI 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.

After a crisis period (including two short-lived pro-Venizelist military governments after Nikolaos Plastiras
Nikolaos Plastiras
Nikolaos Plastiras was a Greek general and politician, who served thrice as Prime Minister of Greece. A distinguished soldier and known for his personal bravery, he was known as "O Mavros Kavalaris" during the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922...

 1923 coup) the liberals returned to power from 1928 until 1932. Venizelists Sophoklis Venizelos
Sophoklis Venizelos
Sofoklis Venizelos was a prominent Greek politician who three times served as Prime Minister of Greece .He was born in Chania. The second-born son of Eleftherios Venizelos, Sofoklis served with distinction in the Greek Army during the First World War and the initial phases of the Asia Minor...

 and George Papandreou formed the core of the Greek government in exile
Greek government in exile
The Greek government in exile was the official government of Greece, headed by King George II, which evacuated from Athens in April 1941, after the German invasion of the country, first to the island of Crete and then to Cairo in Egypt. Hence it is also referred to as the "Cairo Government"...

 during the Axis Occupation of Greece (1941-1944), and held power a number of times in the 1950s.

Center Union

George Papandreou created the Center Union
Center Union
The Centre Union was a Greek political party, created in 1961 by George Papandreou, senior.The party was elected to power in 1963, with Papandreou as Prime Minister...

 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
Apostasia of 1965
The terms Apostasia or Iouliana or the Royal Coup are used to describe the political crisis in Greece that centred around 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...


Centrist Democratic Union

After the 1967-1974 Junta, Venizelists formed the Center Union-New Forces party, which then evolved into the Union of the Democratic Centre . 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
Turkish invasion of Cyprus
The Turkish invasion of Cyprus, launched on 20 July 1974, was a Turkish military invasion in response to a Greek military junta backed coup in Cyprus...

, and Karamanlis
Constantine Karamanlis
Konstantínos G. Karamanlís , commonly anglicised to Constantine Karamanlis or Caramanlis, was a four-time Prime Minister, the 3rd and 5th President of the Third Hellenic Republic and a towering figure of Greek politics whose political career spanned much of the latter half of the 20th century.-...

' move towards the political center had blurred the differences between the liberals and their former conservative opponents, while the socialist PASOK
Panhellenic Socialist Movement
The Panhellenic Socialist Movement , known mostly by its acronym PASOK , is one of the two major political parties in Greece. Founded on 3 September 1974 by Andreas Papandreou, in 1981 PASOK became Greece's first social democratic party to win a majority in parliament.The party is a socialist party...

 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
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

, the leading Venizelist party was the Union of Centrists
Union of Centrists
The Union of Centrists is a political party in Greece without parliamentary representation.The party was founded by Vassilis Leventis in 1992 under the title "Union of Centrists and Ecologists". The name was changed shortly after. This party is continued by the old party Center Union.The party...

, gaining only 0.54% of the Greek popular vote. An attempted revival of the original Liberal Party, under the same name
Liberal Party (Greece, modern)
The Liberal Party is a Greek liberal political party, founded in the 1980s, which claims to be the continuation of the historical Liberal Party, one of Greece's leading parties for most of the early 20th century...

, was founded in the 1980s by Venizelos' grandson.
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