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Parliamentary elections were held in Greece on 1 November 1920.[1] They were possibly the most crucial elections in the modern history of Greece, influencing not only the few years afterwards, including the country's defeat by Kemal Atatürk's reformed Turkish Land Forces in 1922, but setting the stage for Greece's political landscape for most of the rest of the 20th century. It had been nearly five years since the last election, a period during which all democratic procedures were suspended due to the National Schism, when Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos announced that the elections would take place on 25 October. However, after the unexpected death of King Alexander, who had assumed the throne after the exile of his father, King Constantine I, the elections were postponed until 1 November.

1920 Greek legislative election

← 1915 (Dec) 1 November 1920 1923 →

All 370 seats of the Greek Parliament
186 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  Dimitrios Gounaris.jpg Eleftherios Venizelos, portrait 1935.jpg
Leader Dimitrios Gounaris Eleftherios Venizelos
Party IA Liberal
Leader since 1920 1910
Last election 256 seats Boycotted
Seats won 260 110
Seat change Increase 4 Boycotted
Popular vote 368,678 375,803
Percentage 49.36% 50.31%

Prime Minister before election

Eleftherios Venizelos
Liberal

Elected Prime Minister

Dimitrios Gounaris
People's Party

The result was a victory for the United Opposition, which won 251 of the 369 seats.

ResultsEdit

e • d Summary of the 1 November election results
Parties and coalitions Votes % Seats
People's Party
Conservative Party
Reform Party
Others
United Opposition 368,678 49.4 260
Liberal Party 375,803 50.3 110
Others 2,465 0.3 0
Total 746,946 100 370

Source: Greek Institute of Constitutional History

AftermathEdit

 
1920 Caricature in the Greek press, where the Greek voter is called upon to choose between war and peace

Eleftherios Venizelos regarded a victory for his Liberal Party as all but certain, because of his diplomatic and military successes against the Ottoman Empire. Nevertheless, the final electoral results represented nothing short of a disaster for Venizelos. Not only did the United Opposition achieve an absolute majority of seats in Parliament, but Venizelos himself failed to win a seat. Humiliated and disappointed by the outcome of the election, Venizelos left the country for France, also leaving his Liberal Party without a logical successor or any strong leadership.

The reasons of the unexpected defeat of the Liberals included:

  • The electoral system: The Liberal Party took almost 7,000 more votes (50, 23%, 375.803 votes) than the Opposition, but it received just 118 seats, while the Opposition received 251 seats
  • The conservative and right-wing opposition managed to unite under a highly esteemed leader, Dimitrios Gounaris
  • The United Opposition managed to turn the elections into a referendum on the exiled King Constantine I, who was still wildly popular especially in Old Greece (the pre-Balkan Wars kingdom).
  • The Greek people were tired after almost a decade of wars and division, and was susceptible to the United Opposition promise to secure peace with the Turks and bring the troops home
  • The vote of the tens of thousands of Muslim and Jewish citizens in Greek Macedonia was also overwhelmingly cast in favour of the United Opposition, as it had been in the 1915 elections.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p829 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7