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Prime Ministers in Greece

The Paradox of Power

by:  Kevin Featherstone and Dimitris Papadimitriou
published by: Oxford University Press
pp: 288
ISBN: 978-0-19-871717-1
price: £55.00 Hardcover

Book's frontpage

This book is concerned with a large question in one small, but highly problematic case: how can a prime minister establish control and coordination across his or her government?

The Greek system of government sustains a 'paradox of power' at its very core. The Constitution provides the prime minister with extensive and often unchecked powers. Yet, the operational structures, processes and resources around the prime minister undermine their power to manage the government. Through a study of all main premierships between 1974 and2009, Prime Ministers in Greece argues that the Greek prime minister has been 'an emperor without clothes'. The costs of this paradox included the inability to achieve key policy objectives under successive governments and a fragmented system of governance that provided the backdrop to Greece's economic meltdown in 2010.

Building on an unprecedented range of interviews and archival material, Featherstone and Papadimitriou set out to explore how this paradox has been sustained. They conclude with the Greek system meeting its 'nemesis': the arrival of the close supervision of its government by the 'Troika' - the representatives of Greece's creditors. The debt crisischallenged taboos and forced a self-reflection. It remains unclear, however, whether either the external strategy or the domestic response is likely to be sufficient to make the Greek system of governance 'fit for purpose'.


Table of contents

1: Politicians, Patronage, and the Bureaucratic Tradition: the Problems of Control and Coordination Within the Greek Government
2: The Leadership Factor: the Person and the Post
3: Primus solus: Constantinos Karamanlis as PM (1974-1980)
4: At the Centre of a Galaxy: Andreas Papandreou as Prime Minister (1981-1989 and 1993-1996)
5: Institutionalisation and Micro-management: Constantinos Mitsotakis as Prime Minister (1990-1993)
6: Innovation Circumscribed: Costas Simitis as Prime Minister (1996-2004)
7: In the Shadows of Uncertainty: Costas Karamanlis as Prime Minister (2004-2009)
8: 'Plus ça change': Change and Continuity in the Greek Core Executive
9: Governing in Context: International Comparisons and Reform Implications
Appendix: List of Interviewees


Author Bios

Kevin Featherstone
, Eleftherios Venizelos Professor of Contemporary Greek Studies and Professor of European Politics, London School of Economics and Political Science, and Dimitris Papadimitriou, Professor of Politics and Director of the Manchester Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence (JMCE), University of Manchester

Kevin Featherstone is Eleftherios Venizelos Professor of Contemporary Greek Studies and Professor of European Politics, and Director of the Hellenic Observatory within the European Institute. He has held visiting positions at the University of Minnesota, New York University, and Harvard University. Before LSE, he held academic posts at the universities of Stirling and Bradford. In 2009/10 he served on an advisory committee for the reform of the Greek government. He was the first foreign member of the National Council for Research and Technology (ESET) in Greece. In 2013 he was made 'Commander: Order of the Phoenix' by the President of the Hellenic Republic. In 2014, the European Parliament selected one of his books (co-authored with Kenneth Dyson) as one of its '100 Books on Europe to Remember'.

Dimitris Papadimitriou is Professor of Politics at the University of Manchester and Director of the Manchester Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence. He has held visiting posts at Princeton University (2006-7), the London School of Economics (2010), and Yale University (2010). He has written extensively on Greek politics, the political economy of the European Union and the EU's relations with Central and Eastern Europe. His most recent books include The EU's Lisbon Agenda: evaluating success, understanding failure (with P. Copeland, Palgrave 2012), The Last Ottomans: The Muslim Minority of Greece, 1940-49 (with K. Featherstone, A. Mamarelis and G. Niarchos, Palgrave 2011) and The Limits of Europeanisation: reform capacity and policy conflict in Greece (with K. Featherstone, Palgrave 2008).


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