Monday, January 16, 2023

The terrible legacy of Constantine Glücksburg

Constantine (center) with the military Junta leaders, 1967.
Constantine Glücksburg, son of Paul and Federicka, who died on Tuesday 10 January aged 82, was the last representative of the institution of monarchy in Greece, reigning between 1964 and 1973.

The monarchy in Greece didn't arise as in other states, as a remnant of the transition from feudalism to capitalism, but was introduced after the 1821 Revolution as a result of the direct intervention of the “Great Powers” of the time (Great Britain, France, Russia), in collaboration with part of the rising Greek bourgeoisie. As an institution, it didn't evolve into a “decorative ornament”, as it happened in other capitalist states, but retained its role as a center of power, always embedded in the framework of the bourgeois state with direct links to international capitalist centers. 
Throughout the 19th and 20th century, monarchy became many times the epicenter of intra-bourgeois conflicts concerning the course of the Greek capitalist state, the “balances” between its bourgeois backrooms of power (e.g. the control of the armed forces) as well as the state's international alliances. Additionally, Greek monarchy played its own, distinctive and crucial, role in a series of reactionary developments, including the violent suppression of the workers-popular movement, imposition and implementation of authoritarian policies, involvement in military coups, etc.

Despite its utterly anachronistic character, Greek Monarchy was proved quite useful for the strengthening of capitalist power – mostly as a “guarantor” of the so-called “national unity” - even by its political opponents, such as Eleftherios Venizelos. Especially after the Second World War, the Monarchy played a notable role for the unity of the fragmented and weakened bourgeois political forces, as well as for the stabilization and centralization of the bourgeois political system at a time when it was recovering from the war. Within this framework, the Palace was at the forefront of the brutal repression of the workers' movement and the intensification of anti-communism.

However, in the 1950s and even more so in the 1960s, the necessity for a series of modernizations within the bourgeois state and the political system began to emerge more amd more imperatively. The institution of Monarchy, a remnant of the previous century, stood firmly against this perspective, ultimately leading to the sharpening of the intra-bourgeois rivalries. The escalation of these antagonisms, which were centered on the pivotal issue of the control of the armed forces, culminated with the April 1967 military coup that imposed the 1967-1974 dictatorial regime.

Constantine Glücksburg, who was crowned King in 1964 following his father's death, bears significant responsibility for the developments that led to the 1967 coup d'etat. He persistently intervened in the intra-bourgeois political conflicts, in an effort to increase the monarchy's influence. The active interference of Constantine in the 1965-1967 political crisis exacerbated the already tense situation. At the same time, within the context of supporting the broader USA-NATO policy in the region, Greek monarchy never abandoned the aim of overthrowing Archbishop Makarios in Cyprus. It is characteristic that by 1965, Constantine had submitted to the U.S. government a plan concerning the overthrow of Makarios.

The Palace, under Constantine, had elaborated a plan for a potential military coup in case of a deadlock in the 1965-1967 political crisis. However, the April 1967 military coup by a group of Colonels headed by Georgios Papadopoulos prevented any activity thus leading to the abolition of parliamentary democracy and, ultimately, of the monarchy itself.

During the first period of the military Junta, the Colonels needed the legitimacy offered by King Constantine as the institutional head of the state and the army, utilizing the significant influence he continued to have within the armed forces. From his side, Constantine chosed to recognize the Junta, thus contributing significantly to its consolidation. In exchange, he was able to place a number of his close affiliates in key positions (e.g. Junta's first Prime Minister Konstantinos Kollias), seeking to control the situation. When Constantine decided to implement his counter-coup in December 1967, the Colonels' power was already sufficiently consolidated in order to suppress it. On December 13, 1967, Constantine and his family were exiled in Rome and, later, in London.

Despite the fact that some of the putschists were former supporters of the monarchy, the 1973 “Junta Constitution” proceeded to its abolition, within the framework of the Greek bourgeoisie for modernizations in the political system. Following the heroic struggle of the Greek people, the military Junta collapsed on July 1974, a few days after the Turkish invasion in Cyprus. With the referendum of December 8, 1974, the people of Greece decided to sent monarchy in the dustbin of history, voting in favor (69.18%) of its abolition once and for all.