50 years of Greece's New Democracy party: A legacy of prosperity, stability and inclusivity

The Greek political movement New Democracy has worked to become a broad-church of opinions and ideals centred on a set of common-sense values and is seeing continued success 50 years on from its founding

By Christina Georgaki

Christina is the founder and managing partner of Georgaki and Partners Law Firm.

03 Apr 2024

This week my party is celebrating the 50th anniversary of our founding. It might seem odd, in the world’s most ancient democracy, to be marking such a relatively youthful birthday. But there is so much for us to be grateful for in the last half century of New Democracy’s existence - and it is important, also, that we take this opportunity to remember how important but also how fragile democracy itself can be. 

It was New Democracy which, in 1974, guided our country back to democracy after years of military rule. The transfer of power from unelected rulers to those chosen and trusted by the people can often be a dangerous time for a country. But we achieved a peaceful handover that safeguarded the security and the prosperity of the Greek people. For that achievement, New Democracy has regularly been rewarded by the voters - we have spent most of our 50 year history in office as one of the most electorally successful political movements of the 20th and 21st centuries. 

Many of the most significant moments in modern Greek history have happened under - and been driven by - New Democracy governments. It was New Democracy that took Greece into the EU, which has been essential to our country’s continued prosperity and for enhancing our place on the world stage. And it was New Democracy that secured the right to host the 2004 Olympic Games - bringing the modern games to their ancient home and reinforcing for the whole world the centrality of the games’ underlying values of cultural exchange and human dignity. And, of course, it was New Democracy in whom the Greek people placed their trust to clean up the mess that was left after a far-left government coincided with a global financial crisis. We are successful as a political movement not because the electorate is unimaginative but because they know that we can be counted on to deliver.

Political movements cannot live in the past or rest on their laurels

Our values are eternal and they are pragmatic. As our current New Democracy Prime Minister has said “Those who believe in economic growth, healthy entrepreneurship, responsible patriotism, the defense of rights and freedoms, while supporting the weakest and the welfare state, have a place in New Democracy.” Around the world, we see many centre-right movements becoming more polarising and less inclusive, in a race to the bottom. New Democracy has gone in the opposite direction - deliberately building a tent big enough for many strands of opinion, centred on a set of common-sense values around which we can all cohere. It’s that big tent that won us the trust and the support of the Greek electorate in the last election and keeping that common-sense, common-ground coalition together is the mission for my party over the next 50 years.

What does that mean in practice? It means building on the strong foundations for recovery that we have had the privilege to lay over the last decade. Greek salaries are rising, our economy is growing and inflation here in Greece is significantly lower than elsewhere in Europe. New Democracy is also building the economy of the future, investing in research and development and partnering with the EU to bring more cutting-edge innovation to Greece. In my own small way, through my work to attract foreign direct investment into Greece, I am proud to be part of that plan for prosperity. 

Political movements cannot live in the past or rest on their laurels. And New Democracy’s history shows that we will not. But we must always celebrate what is good - and New Democracy has been an unalloyed good for Greece. We have been putting our country’s prosperity and welfare above narrow political interests for half a century, and we will carry on doing so for the next fifty years.