. However this time it backfired and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus began.

The post invasion paralysis and the Metapolitefsi paradox

Immediately after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus the dictators, not expecting such a disastrous outcome, decided that Ioannidis' approach was catastrophic for the interests of the country. The complete rationale for their subsequent actions, even to this day, is not known. Analysis of their motives can improve with time as new details come to the fore.

However indications of panic and indecision were manifestly evident from the reaction of the Greek public as they raided supermarkets fearing an all out war with Turkey and sensing the inability of the junta to govern through its inaction, as well as the anxious attempts of the junta members to communicate with and surrender power to the very same members of the democratic Establishment of Greece that they had demonized and maligned for seven years and they worked so hard to replace with a New Greece (Νέα Ελλάδα) completely devoid of any link with the old party system (παλαιοκομματισμός (palaiokommatismos: Junta term for the old, (pre-junta), democratic party system)) and its politicians. It was as if the brave new world of Ellas Ellinon Christianon (translated as Greece of the Christian Greeks, or to put it in layman's terms: minorities need not apply) envisaged and pursued so fervently by the junta was neither brave nor new and it led straight back to the past.

This paradox is at the centre of the phenomenon known as Metapolitefsi.

Konstantinos Karamanlis arrives in Athens on the French Presidential jet, courtesy of French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, to assume the leadeship of government of national unity that would lead to free elections. He is greeted by a jubilant crowd of supporters craving for the restoration of democratic rule.

Deus ex machina

Greece is the birthplace of the Theatre as well as Democracy. In ancient theatrical plays every time the plot got too tangled for a rational resolution, catharsis (Greek for cleansing i.e. resolution as in cleaning up the mess) came in the form of a god (Deus ex machina (translated from Latin as God from the machine)), that descended from above with the aid of mechanical devices such as levers, cranes and pulleys i.e. from a machine, and dispensed resolution to even the most complex of predicaments.

The complexity of the post invasion plot of the Greek political scene in 1974 resembled that of even the most tangled of ancient theatrical plays.

It also came with its own Deus ex machina (Greek:Από μηχανής Θεός). The machine this time was more modern, it was a jet and there was no actor but a well trusted and famous politician. The function however was the same: Catharsis.

Catharsis on the wings of a jet: Karamanlis arrives in Athens

Following the Cyprus invasion by the Turks, the dictators finally abandoned Ioannides and his bankrupt policies. On the 23rd of July 1974, President Phaedon Gizikis called a meeting of old guard politicians, including Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, Spiros Markezinis, Stephanos Stephanopoulos, Evangelos Averoff and others. The agenda was to appoint a national unity government that would lead the country to elections. Although former Prime Minister Panagiotis Kanellopoulos was originally suggested as the head of the new government, since he was the democratically elected Prime Minister originally deposed by the dictatorship and the sentimental favourite, the circumstances had changed and the clock could not be turned back. New circumstances and dangers both inside and outside the country demanded a Prime Minister that would have the clout and force of personality to restore the nascent Democracy to the cradle that originally created it: Greece. Gizikis finally seeing the light and in consultation with the hitherto dormant democratic political elite of the country invited Konstantinos Karamanlis to assume that role.Throughout his stay in France, Karamanlis was a thorn at the side of the junta because he possessed the credibility and popularity they lacked both in Greece and abroad and he also criticized them very often. Karamanlis returned to Athens on a French Presidency Lear Jet made available to him by President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, a close personal friend, and was sworn-in as Prime Minister under President Phaedon Gizikis who remained temporarily in power for legal continuity reasons.

Despite being faced with an inherently unstable and dangerous political situation, which forced him to sleep aboard a yacht watched over by a naval destroyer for several weeks after his return, Karamanlis moved swiftly to defuse the tension between Greece and Turkey, which came on the brink of war over the Cyprus crisis, and begin the process of transition from military rule to a pluralist democracy.

Metapolitefsi day one: Konstantinos Karamanlis taking the oath of office during metapolitefsi under the watchful eyes of Phaedon Gizikis on 24th July 1974 at 4:15 a.m.

Metapolitefsi: The transition that worked

During this transition period of the metapolitefsi, Karamanlis legalized the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) that was banned by the junta, cleverly using this political move as an easy differentiator between the stubborn junta rigidity on the matter that smacked of totalitarianism and his own realpolitik approach honed by years of practicing democracy. He also adopted a measured approach to removing collaborators and appointees of the dictatorship from the positions they held in government bureaucracy, and, wanting to officially inaugurate the new democratic era in Greek politics as soon as possible, declared that elections would be held in November 1974, a mere four months after the collapse of the Régime of the Colonels.

In those elections, Karamanlis with his newly formed conservative party, not coincidentally named New Democracy (Greek: Νέα Δημοκρατία, transliterated in English as: Nea Demokratia) obtained a massive parliamentary majority and was elected Prime Minister. The elections were soon followed by the 1974 plebiscite on the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of the Hellenic Republic, the televised 1975 trials of the former dictators (who received death sentences for high treason and mutiny that were later commuted to life incarceration) and the writing of the 1975 constitution.

In 1977, New Democracy again won the elections, and Karamanlis continued to serve as Prime Minister until 1980.

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