A Citizen’s Guide to Greece 2015


February 26, 2012

Citizenship in Greece in questions

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Written by: pdcadmin

By Despina Ventouri

Despite the fact that the concept of citizenship has roots in ancient Greece, one must not confuse this with more modern definitions and forms of citizenship. First, citizenship and democracy were invented in city-states, where it was possible for an elite class of citizens to participate directly to the political process. Second, for almost 2000 years Greece was governed by pre-modern, multi-ethnic empires, where participation was all but impossible for any Greeks at all.

Citizenship, as defined by Aristotle and as practiced in classical Athens, was a privilege. Since the advent of the modern Greek nation-state, citizenship has been based on a European prototype, according to which citizens have both rights and responsibilities.

Questions remain.

  • Greek citizens have the right to vote and to run for municipal and parliamentary elections. What control over the elected politicians does the Greek citizen rightfully exercise?
  • Greek citizens have the obligations to pay taxes, abide to the laws of the state, and, for men, serve in the armed forces. What control over government expenditure does the Greek citizen have?
  • Greek citizens have the right to participate in organized labor organizations. What is the level of centralized political party control in organized labor? By extension, how “open” are the political parties to the participation of citizens who happen to not to be members?
  • Greek citizens have the right to free speech. To what extent can a Greek citizen participate in a meaningful public dialogue on the political process? If a Greek citizen does not have direct access to a member of parliament, how can they raise issues?
  • Greece is a republic. To what extent does the current state of representative democracy actually function?
  • Greece is a democracy. How can the Greek citizen participate effectively in the political process?
  • Greece is the birthplace of democracy. Why is a contemporary definition of citizenship so elusive?


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