The man who has tried to guide Greece through this tumultuous period, turned 59 last week.
The leadership of George Papandreou is being questioned once again as further austerity measures are being demanded by Euro zone Finance Ministers before Greece will receive another 110bn Euro package from the IMF and EU . The economic crisis in Greece has plagued the Papandreou regime. A gentleman with an extraordinary background who began his term with much promise and hope has become one of the most despised men in Greece.
George Papandreou comes from a Greek political dynasty with both his father and grandfather previously being Prime Ministers of Greece. He was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, on June 16 1952 to Andreas and Margaret Papandreou. The reason for his American birth was due to his father’s exile from Greece in 1939. His childhood has taken him around the western world to Illinois, Canada and Sweden. Papandreou was educated at the top universities in the United States and England, earning degrees from Amherst College in Massachusetts and the London School of Economics.
Papandreou moved to his fatherland Greece in 1974 when the Greek Military Junta finally collapsed and he immediately joined his father’s party: Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok).
Papandreou eventually entered Greek Parliament in 1981 as an MP for the constituency of Achaea, the same year his father was declared the Prime Minister. Papandreou throughout the Eighties and Nineties held a variety of ministerial posts culminating in February 1999 as Minister of Foreign Affairs. He is also credited for the successful bid for Athens to host the 2004 Olympic Games.
Papandreou has been an intriguing figure in Greek Politics, distancing himself from strong macho tendencies and nationalistic policies that have been popular during his predecessors’ regimes, leading to pundits noting his lack of leadership skills and ambitious mentality. During his time as Minister of Foreign Affairs he actively sought to reduce tensions with neighbouring Turkey and improving relations will former rivals Albania and Bulgaria. In addition, he pushed for better relations on the Island of Cyprus.
In October 2009, George Papandreou followed in his paternal footsteps and became the 182nd Prime Minister of Greece. He entered office with promises of combating corruption and complacency. He also began in tenure-ship with massive financial issues with a 12.7% GDP budget deficit and an unemployment rate at 10%.
Throughout his time as Prime Minister he has attempted to reduce government spending, increase taxes, shrink the public sector, and combat tax evasion promoting various austerity measures to steady Greece through these chaotic times. His attempts have infuriated the Greek public and have fallen short of IMF and EU bailout goals.
George Papandreou has tried to change the image of Greek politics and was rewarded with a financial crisis by his predecessors, a failing party coalition and outright anger by his fellow Greeks. Greeks are asking for a strong leader to help reshape and rebuild Greece and many ask if Papandreou has the spine to do it. George Papandreou has been given an extraordinarily difficult task in which very few leaders would be able to rise successfully to the challenge.