Greece formally became an independent state in 1830. Except for the period between 1923 and 1935, when a republic was instituted briefly, the country’s system of government was that of a hereditary constitutional monarchy. In 1967 a junta (group of military leaders) took control of the country. A constitution drafted the following year stripped the king of most powers. Following the collapse of military rule in 1974, the Greek people voted in favor of a republic and for the end of the monarchy. A new republican constitution took effect in 1975.
The 1975 constitution significantly strengthened the powers of the executive over the legislature. Greece has both a president and a prime minister, as well as a cabinet of ministers. A constitutional revision in 1986 transferred a great deal of executive authority from the president to the prime minister and the cabinet. The powers of the president are now largely ceremonial. The president is the head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces. He or she is elected by the parliament for a maximum of two five-year terms. Under extraordinary circumstances, a Council of the Republic, consisting of prominent political figures, can authorize the president to dissolve the parliament. The prime minister is head of government.
The president appoints the prime minister but is obliged to select the candidate proposed by the party with the largest number of seats in the parliament. The president appoints the cabinet on the recommendation of the prime minister. The parliament can remove the prime minister and cabinet with a vote of no confidence.
The parliament, or Vouli, is a unicameral (single-chamber) body consisting of 300 deputies elected for four-year terms. Voting is compulsory for all citizens aged 18 and older. Most deputies are directly elected, but a small number of state deputies are elected from party lists in proportion to the number of votes each party receives. This system of reinforced proportional representation has been frequently amended as ruling parties have sought to manipulate the electoral system to their advantage.
The 1975 constitution guarantees the right to establishment of, and membership in, political parties. In the second half of the 20th century, political parties tended to be grouped in three main families: right, center, and left. Currently the principal parties are the left-of-center Panhellenic Socialist Movement (known by its Greek acronym, PASOK) and the right-of-center New Democracy (ND). Further to the left are the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Synaspismos coalition. Historically, parties have tended to be organized around charismatic (and frequently elderly) leaders, but politics are becoming more ideologically based and political leaders are often younger.
Greece’s judicial system is based on Roman law. There is a hierarchy of courts that handle cases related to civil, criminal, and administrative law. Civil and criminal cases are tried in courts of first instance, from which appeals may be made to courts of appeal and then to the Supreme Court. Special courts, such as labor arbitration and social security courts, adjudicate in administrative cases, which may be appealed to a Council of State. At the apex of the judicial system is the Special Supreme Tribunal, which rules on the constitutionality of legislation. The president appoints the judges of all of the courts after consultation with the Judicial Council. Judges are appointed for life terms. "Greece" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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