Papandreou Andreas

Greece's Socialist Party (PASOK) leader Andreas Papandreou was born in Chios in 1919 and died on 23rd of June 1996 in Athens after a prolonged illness.

The Harvard-educated Papandreou had been Prime Minister of Greece for almost ten years, after winning general elections three times, the first in October 1981, then in June 1985 and, his latest term, in October 1993. In January of 1996, halfway into his third term, Mr. Papandreou resigned after having stayed in the hospital for two months for lung and kidney failure. He nevertheless remained a powerful force in the Socialist Party which he presided.

Mr. Papandreou was born at the island of Chios in 1919, son of later prime minister George Papandreou and Sophia Meneiko.

A graduate of Athens University Law School, Andreas Papandreou was arrested in 1939 for his political activities during the Metaxa dictatorship and, after being released from prison, departed for the United States.

In 1943, he earned his PhD in Economics from Harvard University and, after becoming an American citizen, he served with the US Navy during World War II.

Having taught as lecturer at a number of universities in the US, among which the University of California Berkeley, Mr. Papandreou returned to Greece in 1959 where he headed an economic development research program. One year later he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors and General Director of the Athens Economic Research Center and Advisor to the Bank of Greece.

His first official involvement with politics came in 1964 when he was elected deputy for Achaia with the Center Union Party. In that two-year period he served as Minister to the Prime Minister's office and subsequently Alternate Co-ordination Minister.

Mr. Papandreou was arrested in April 1967 by the military junta only to be released eight months later and be sent to exile, first in Sweden and later in Canada. He lectured Economic Science at Stockholm University (1968-1969) and at Toronto's York University (1969-1974).

In February 1968 Mr. Papandreou founded the Panhellenic Liberation Movement (PAK) and struggled against the coup until the junta fell in July of 1974.

Andreas Papandreou returned to Greece in August 1974 when he founded the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). During that year's elections, the party received a mere 13.5 per cent of the vote, but three years later it gathered 25 per cent, thereby giving Papandreou the spotlight as the country's main opposition party leader.

In 1981's general elections, PASOK won a landslide victory, with Papandreou becoming Prime Minister, only to repeat his success in June 1985. He held on to the Premiership post until the June 1989 elections, during which PASOK lost to the New Democracy party.

At the turn of the decade, the country was rocked by a series of scandals and Papandreou's health began to show signs of strain, having undergone open heart surgery in 1988. In July 1989 he married the Olympic Airways hostess Dimitra Liani, divorcing his American wife of 38 years Margaret Papandreou with whom he had three sons and one daughter. Also the same year, Mr. Papandreou was indicted by Parliament in connection with the $200 million Bank of Crete embezzlement scandal. He was accused of helping the embezzlement by ordering state corporations to transfer their holdings to the Bank of Crete, where the interest was allegedly skimmed off to benefit the Socialists. He was cleared of all wrongdoing in January 1992.

Andreas Papandreou bounced back in October 1993 when he began his third four-year term as prime minister. While his charisma never eclipsed, his fragile health kept him from exercising the active political leadership role he once had been famous for. He was hospitalised at Athens' Onasion Cardiosurgery Center on November 20, 1995, for lung and kidney failure and returned to his home on March 21, 1996.

© 1996 Macedonian Press Agency