Greek Language Blog

7 things you didn’t know about the Greek election Posted by on Jul 3, 2019 in Culture, Vocabulary

Γεια σας! Sunday, the 7th of July is the date of the general election (βουλευτικές εκλογές). In this post, we will explore some historic facts related to the public election in Greece.

By Anestiev via Pixabay

  • The Constitution of 1864 (Το Σύνταγμα του 1864) acknowledged civil rights (πολιτικά δικαιώματα) to women. Τhe Greek women participated at the general election for the first time on the 19th of February 1864.
  • In 1956, Lina Tsaldari (Λίνα Τσαλδάρη) was the first woman to be a minister. She took charge of the Ministry of Social Welfare (Υπουργείο Κοινωνικής Πρόνοιας).
  • In the Greek Parliament (ελληνικό Κοινοβούλιο) there are only 53 women deputies out of 300.
  • The first election after the dictatorship (δικτατορία) took place on the 17th of November 1974. The prime minister (πρωθυπουργός) was Konstantinos Karamanlis (Κωνσταντίνος Καραμανλής) who got 55% of the votes and 149 seats. This is a “record” which has not been broken yet.
  • It is the first time after 144 years that elections are held in July.
  • In ancient Greece instead of paper ballots (ψηφοδέλτια), people were using shells, small pieces of pots and stones. The word ψήφος (vote) means smooth pebble.
  • The first paper ballot was used in the municipal elections (δημοτικές εκλογές) in 1834. The voter (ψηφοφόρος) had to write down the name of the candidate they preferred but as many voters were illiterate, the paper ballot was abolished and replaced by a lead pellet, until the municipal election in 1914. From 1926 until now we have been using paper ballots.

Vocabulary and grammar

  • The word ψήφος is feminine (η ψήφος) but is declined like a masculine noun ending in –ος. When used with an adjective, the adjective is feminine. Example: πολλές ψήφοι, not πολλοί ψήφοι / πόσες ψήφοι, not πόσοι ψήφοι.
  • We always use the noun εκλογή in the plural (εκλογές) to refer to political elections. Example: βουλευτικές εκλογές (general election). Εκλογή means selection, choice or cooptation.
  • The noun deputy is translated as βουλευτής for both genders and is declined as a masculine noun ending in -ης. In everyday life Greek though, some people often use βουλευτίνα for a woman.

If you want to read more on vocabulary, you read my post on election vocabulary.


By Jo-B via Pixabay

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About the Author: Ourania

Ourania lives in Athens. She holds a degree in French Literature and a Master’s degree in Special Education for Children. Since 2008, she has been teaching Greek to foreigners.


  1. Ruth Turner:

    Before 1930, the idea of Greek women voting was derided and in the newspapers of the time editorials spoke sarcastically against the right of women to vote. The notion of a woman casting a ballot was considered dangerous and to be avoided. The main argument against the right to vote was that women were hysterical, illogical and unpredictable when they had their period and since the menstrual cycle of all Greek women did not coincide, “what would the election date be?” as one editor wrote.

    In 1930, Greek women were given the right to vote, but under two conditions: They had to be older than 30 years and they should have finished grade school. The latter was a privilege that few women had at the time.

    In the rest of Europe, women in Finland were granted the right to vote in 1906, in Norway in 1917, in Germany in 1919, in Britain in 1928.

    The first time that Greek women exercised their right to vote was in the municipal elections of February 11, 1934. However, in the Athens voter catalogs had only 2,655 ladies registered and only 439 of them actually went to the polls.

    At the time, for many women of higher social class it was considered unladylike to vote. Prominent actress Marika Kotopouli did not want to vote because – as she was saying – voting was only for ugly women and those who did not want to bear children.

    It was after World War II and the Greek Civil War that the issue of women’s rights was discussed again. Finally, the right for all women to vote in the parliamentary elections and the right to be elected was granted in May 28, 1952. However, women did not go to the polls in November that year because the voter catalogs were not updated.

    In 1953, in a repeat election in Thessaloniki, the first female deputy was elected. It was Eleni Skoura of the Hellenic Alert party, who, along with Virginia Zanna of the Liberal Party, were the first women candidates for the parliamentary post.

    In the next election on February 19, 1956, Lina Tsaldari of the National Radical Union (ERE) and Vaso Thanasekou of the Democratic Union managed to be elected to the House.

    Lina Tsaldari became the first female minister to take over the Ministry of Social Welfare in the Constantin Karamanlis government. In the same year the first female mayor, Maria Desylla, was elected in Corfu.

    The Greek women’s movement achieved its greatest victory when the principle of gender equality was established in the 1975 Constitution.

    • Ourania:

      @Ruth Turner Thank you! I am glad this post motivated you to share additional information on women’s vote in Greece.