Party system in Balkans in 1940′s and today

Posted: June 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

By Sara Mendes

The 1930’s and especially the 1940’s were a troubled time, in which many countries of the Balkans had to experience the bitterness of war and also the participation in the Holocaust.  Not only, had Jewish people suffered with the process of the Nazi occupation, but also the rest of population living in those countries.

That was a time of changes in the nations that participated in the war, not only in politics but also, in their territory and even in the vision of the world and the human diversity.

Some of these countries, such as Romania, Bulgaria, today’s Republic of Macedonia and Greece, fell in the Axis powers (nationalist forces), and were occupied by strange armies.  People lived in a hostile ambience. Due to these facts, in the 40’s there were many changes in those countries, particularly in their politics and political parties.

Most of the parties in the 40’s were forbidden or had clandestine activities due to dictatorial rules, whilst, now the most part of the parties are liberal, following a democratic and social ideology.

Collecting information through research, we understand why the Balkan countries were so important for the Nazi Forces, due to its strategic geographical position between Europe and Russia, these states were essential for the Nazi.

In Romania, the fascist or extreme right political movement and later, a political party, grew up in popularity and power, in the beginning of the Second World War.

This party had strong fundaments of Orthodox Christianity in its political principles, becoming one of the rare modern European political movements with a religious ideology.

Once at power, the party led a cruel anti-Semitic legislation, The Iron Guard has become infamous for their participation in the Holocaust.

Other Political party, the PCR or the Communist Party of Romania was a minor and illegal group between the periods of the two World Wars, and submitted to direct Comintern control. During the 1930s, most of its militants were imprisoned or looked for refuge in the Soviet Union. Although, the Communist Party became known as a strong party on the Romanian political scene in August 1944, because of its involvement in the Royal coup that brought down the pro-Nazi government.

With support from Soviet occupation forces, the PCR was able to force King Michael I into exile, and establish the Romanian communist regime in 1948, becoming the dominant ruling party.

In 1947, the Communist Party absorbed a big part of the Social Democratic Party.

The Socialist Party of Romania, created on December 11, 1918 by members of the Romanian Social Democratic Party defended a radical message for universal suffrage, a republican program and supported a land reform, the program also described for an end to all forms of exploitation.

The Ploughmen’s Front was a Romanian left-wing agrarian-inspired political organization, founded in 1933 and led by Petru Groza. In 1946, the Front had over 1 million members.The leader intended to improve the situation of the peasantry, working for a social security program in the countryside and tax reform encouraging small companies. The Ploughmen’s Front ceased to exist when it dissolved itself in 1953.

Actually in 2011, the National Liberal Party (PNL) is a centre-right liberal party in Romania. It is the third-largest party in the Romanian Parliament, with 53 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 22 in the Senate, behind is the centre-right Democratic Liberal Party and the centre-left the Social Democratic Party. On 5 February 2010, the PNL formed the Social Liberal Union political alliance along with the Social Democratic Party and Conservative Party. The party follows the principle of classical liberalism, promoting economic and social liberalization. In these current years, it has focused more on economic liberalism. The National Liberal Party also supports the neutrality of the state in moral and religious issues, as well as the privatization and denationalization of the economy, a tendency which is currently taking place quite rapidly in Romania, as in other post-communist economies.

Bulgaria, at the beginning of World War II was a neutral country. Later, under pressure from Germany, joined the Trilateral Pact (1940), an agreement signed in Berlin,  Germany on September 27, 1940, which established the Axis Powers of  World War II.

During the years 1941-1944, the resistance used to be organized under the leadership of the Communist Party. The party’s origins lay in the Bulgarian Social Democratic Workers Party, which was founded in 1903. The party joined the Communist International upon its founding in 1919. The Bulgarian Communist Party had dominated the Fatherland Front coalition that took power in 1944. In 1942 the Fatherland Front was created and united all the anti-fascists parties. The resistance to the Germans and the Bulgarian regime was widespread by 1943, organized mostly by the Communists.

By 1944 Germany was losing the war and the regime began to look for a way out. On September 8, 1944 the Soviet troops get into the Bulgarian country and the Bulgarian army participated in the Soviet side in the liberation of Yugoslavia and Hungary.

At the moment in 2011, Bulgaria has a multi-party system, with several parties in which no single party usually manages to gain power alone, and parties must work with each other to form coalition governments. Boyko Borisov, leader of the centre-right party Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, became prime minister on 27 July 2009. Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, abbreviated GERB, are a Bulgarian centre-right political party established on 2006-12-03. It has been Bulgaria’s ruling party since 2009. GERB leader is Boyko Borisov. In early January 2007 and early February 2007, it came second in public census on party support with around 14%, trailing the Bulgarian Socialist Party which had around 25%; its confirmed priorities are fighting crime and corruption, preserving family as the foundation stone of society and reach energy independence.

During World War II, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was part of The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and it was occupied by the Axis Powers from 1941 to 1945. Under the rule of the occupying forces, many Macedonians were supporting the Communist party resistance movement of Josip Broz Tito after 1943, and the National Liberation War begun, leading the German forces out of Macedonia by the end of 1944.

The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO–DPMNE) is a nationalist political party in the Republic of Macedonia. The ideology of this party is Christian Democratic, and supports the entrance of Macedonia to NATO and the European Union. It is ethnically based, claiming that the party’s goals and objectives express the tradition of the Macedonian people on whose political struggle and concepts it is based. The party’s name derives from the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO) a rebel movement formed in 1893.

Another important party in Republic of Macedonia is The Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, a centre-left political group. This party is the successor of the League of Communists of Macedonia, the ruling party during the communist regime which ruled Social Republic of Macedonia as a constituent republic of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1945 to 1990.  The current party leader is Branko Crvenkovski. From September 1992 to 1998 and from 2002 to 2006 the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) was the largest party in the Macedonian parliament and the main party in the government, and has shown a moderate and reconciliatory attitude towards ethnic minorities in Republic of Macedonia.  Regarding its ideology, although being a successor of a communist party and claims to be social-democratic, but the influential lobby in SDSM is moving the party in a neoliberal direction. Consequently, the SDSM has fewer supporters in lower classes and more supporters in upper classes than one can expect from a social-democratic party.

In April 1941, after the German invasion of the country, the Greek government was exiled but was the official government of Greece leaded by King George II, which was evacuated from Athens, first to the island of Crete and then to Cairo in Egypt.

It remained there until the German occupying forces left from the country on 17 October 1944.

The first signs of armed resistance activity in Greece were visible in northern part of the country, due to resentment at the Bulgarian annexations in 1941.  The Germans helped the Bulgarians responding quickly, torching several villages and executing 488 civilians. The brutalities of these punishment lead to an end of the early guerrilla movement, until it was revived in 1942 at a much greater scale.  The Resitsance movements were developed and organized by the communist-controlled EAM/ELAS, which established a separate administration, formalized in March 1944 after elections in both occupied and liberated territories, as the Political Committee of National Liberation (PEEA).  The Political Committee of National Liberation was a communist-dominated government established in Greece in 1944 in opposition to both the collaborationist German-controlled government at Athens and to the royal government-in-exile in Cairo.

The greatest source of partisan activity were the Communist guerrilla forces, the National Liberation Front (EAM), and its military wing, the National People’s Liberation Army (ELAS), which carried out operations of sabotage and guerrilla attacks. Other resistance groups included a right-wing partisan organization, the National Republican Greek League (EDES), led by Colonel Napoleon Zervas, a former army officer and well-known Republican, and the National and Social Liberation (EKKA), led by Colonel Dimitrios Psarros.

After the civil war and since the restoration of democracy, the most dominant parties in Greece are the liberal-conservative New Democracy (ND) and the social-democratic Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). Other significant parties include the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS). The current prime minister is George Papandreou, president of the PASOK, who on 4 October 2009 won with a majority in the Parliament of 160 out of 300 seats.

The ideology of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement began as a democratic socialist party. Andreas Papandreou kept a close relationship with leaders like Yasser Arafat and Muammar Kaddafi having the ideology of an Islamic socialist republic. He wished to create a world where wealth and power would be shared by more countries than just the United States.

In 2009, PASOK won the elections. At the moment, due to a huge deficit, in 2010, the Prime Minister and leader of PASOK, adopted neoliberal policies, like promoting privatization of state enterprises, salary cuts and heavier taxation, under the pressure of the European Union.


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