Venizelos’ domestic politics since his return to power (1928) were not as fortunate as foreign policy. He had set out to consolidate the republican regime; but in the elections of September 25, 1932, the populist-monarchist opposition had already won 95 mandates, putting himself almost on a par with the liberal-republican coalition of which he headed. In reality the masses, especially in the ancient provinces of the kingdom, were of monarchical sentiments. As for the new provinces, they were certainly more inclined towards republican institutions, but also easy to welcome the propaganda of extremist agitators.

To get out of these difficulties, Venizelos after the elections tried to reach an agreement with the opposition to form a cabinet of national concentration. Not having succeeded, he resigned (end of October 1932), ceding power to P. Tsaldaris. But shortly after (January 16, 1933) he provokes a new crisis, resumes the presidency of the council and, in the hope of obtaining a decisive majority, dissolves the Chamber again and calls for new political elections. Despite the electoral operations taking place under his government, the opposition won the majority of the mandates (March 5, 1933). As soon as the outcome of the elections is known, Venizelos, in agreement with Tsaldaris, proposes to the president of the republic A. Zaimis, the formation of a transitional ministry. The task is given to gen. TO. Othoneos (March 7) but on the same day on gen. N. Plastiras, notoriously linked to Venizelos, attempts to seize power with a coup d’état, proclaiming himself dictator. The attempt fails due to the determined and energetic attitude of gen. Greece Condylis and Plastiras immediately flee abroad. Putting aside the idea of ​​a transitional cabinet, power is assumed by P. Tsaldaris, who entrusts the Ministry of War to Condylis. The Venizelist party is now defeated and its main exponents are gradually eliminated by the army and the administration, under the accusation of having participated or joined the Plastiras coup. The fight becomes so furious that he does not even spare himself, despite the great services he has rendered to the homeland, Venizelos, and on 6 June 1934 he is signaled to an attack from which he miraculously emerges unharmed. Venizelos and his followers accuse the government of fomenting the coup; but it seems that the only complaint that can be made about this is that of having neglected to take the appropriate measures to protect the safety of the former prime minister. This was at least what seemed to result from the discussions in parliament and for which the Minister of the Interior, D. Giannopoulos, had to resign (23 October 1934).

In foreign policy Tsaldaris followed in the footsteps of Venizelos, confirming and strengthening the agreements and friendships he made. Following a movement that began as early as 1929 and of which, in Greece, the head of the republican party, A. Papanastasiu, was the main promoter, on 9 February 1934, he signed the “Balkan Pact” in Athens for which Greece, Yugoslavia, Turkey and Romania (Albania and Bulgaria refused to join it) mutually guaranteed border security, pledging not to conclude further agreements with other powers without consulting each other and, in general, to lend mutual help. The pact, still in force (June 1938), was an element of stability and peace in the Near East.

On 1 March, prepared by the Venizelists who deluded themselves that they could forcibly overthrow the government and regain power, a military revolt broke out in Athens. A few regiments rose up and a large part of the fleet, which sailed almost in war attitude from Salamis heading towards the bay of Suda and from here towards Cavala. The movement spread rapidly in Macedonia, Thrace and Crete, where Venizelos took over the direction. But the government, thanks above all to the prompt and decisive action of Condylis and the loyalty of the aviation, of a large part of the army and of the populations of the old provinces who immediately responded to the mobilization order, succeeded, not without bitter fighting and scattering of blood, to tame it. Venizelos, having failed the coup, took refuge in the Italian Dodecanese, and from here to Paris. Shortly after he, with other perpetrators, he was sentenced to death in absentia by. a court martial. The events then rushed towards the only and now fatal solution: the monarchical restoration. The main proponent of this, in addition to General I. Metaxas, head of the royalist parliamentary group, is General Condylis who is now openly joining the monarchy. The action of Tsaldaris, head of the monarchist coalition, appears rather uncertain and ambiguous: either due to excessive prudence or a sense of coherence, having, before assuming power in 1932, declared to accept the republic, instead of favoring he tries to stop the monarchist movement. On March 31, while the monarchists negotiate with the ex-king George, an exile in England, who conditions his eventual return to Greece to the favorable outcome of a plebiscite, excluding the coups d’etat, Tsaldaris proceeds to dissolve the Chamber, convenes for May 19 the rallies for the election of a National Assembly with the mandate to reform (not abolish) the republican constitution and to increase the powers of the government. The new Chamber opens on 1 July and begins the discussion of the constitutional reform according to a project drawn up by a commission appointed by the government. The discussion is very lively, but in the end the problem that arises most is that of how to proceed with the restoration. After a violent debate between monarchists and republicans, the Assembly approves, with 188 in favor and 49 against, the proposal of the plebiscite, but Tsaldaris does not decide to fix the date and sends things along. Finally, pressed by Condylis, who in the meantime had been to Rome (11 July) and Belgrade (16 July) to learn about the thoughts of the head of the Italian government and of Prince Paolo, regent of Yugoslavia, about the restoration of the monarchy in Greece, and from some demonstrations of the army, largely in favor of the monarchy, sets the date for November 3; but on the morning of October 10, the day set for the reconvocation of the National Assembly, four generals presented themselves to him, requiring him to propose to the assembly a law for immediate restoration. At the same time, sensational demonstrations in favor of the monarchy by the army took place in Athens. Tsaldaris, faithful to his program of remaining neutral between the monarchy and the republic, leaving full freedom of judgment to the nation, rather than resign. Upon nomination by the generals themselves, the president immediately entrusted power to Condylis who formed a ministry of monarchists only and that same evening presented the following bills to the chamber, which were approved unanimously: 1. Abrogation of republican democracy; 2. immediate restoration of the monarchy in the person of George II of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and his descendants; 3. calling of the plebiscite on the date already set for November 3 to confirm the aforementioned resolution; 4. Appointment of General Condylis, president of the council, as regent of the kingdom until the return of the king.

Greece Between 1928 and 1936 1

Greece Between 1928 and 1936 Part I
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