After the civil war, Greece sought to join the Western democracies and became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1952.
Since the Civil war (1946–49) but even more after that, the parties in the parliament were divided in three political concentrations. The political formation Right-Centre-Left, given the exacerbation of political animosity that had preceded dividing the country in the 40s, tended to turn the concurrence of parties into ideological positions.
Workmen grade the street in front of new housing constructed with the help of Marshall Plan funds in Greece.
In the beginning of the 1950s, the forces of the Centre (EPEK) succeeded in gaining the power and under the leadership of the aged general N. Plastiras they governed for about half a four-year term. These were a series of governments having limited manoeuvre ability and inadequate influence in the political arena. This government, as well as those that followed, was constantly under the American auspices. The defeat of EPEK in the elections of 1952, apart from increasing the repressive measures that concerned the defeated of the Civil war, also marked the end of the general political position that it represented, namely political consensus and social reconciliation.
The Left, which had been ostracized from the political life of the country, found a way of expression through the constitution of EDA (United Democratic Left) in 1951, which turned out to be a significant pole, yet steadily excluded from the decision making centres. After the disbandment of the Centre as an autonomous political institution, EDA practically expanded its electoral influence to a significant part of the EAM-based Centre-Left.
The 1960s are part of the period 1953-72, during which Greek economy developed rapidly and was structured within the scope of European and worldwide economic developments. One of the main characteristics of that period was the major political event – as we have come to accept it – of the country’s accession in the EEC, in an attempt to create a common market. The relevant treaty was contracted in 1962.
The developmental strategy adopted by the country was embodied in centrally organized five-year plans; yet their orientation was indistinct. The average annual emigration, which absorbed the excess workforce and contributed to extremely high growth rates, exceeded the annual natural increase in population. The influx of large amounts of foreign private capital was being facilitated and consumption was expanded. These, associated with the rise of tourism, the expansion of shipping activity and with the migrant remittances, had a positive effect on the balance of payments.
The peak of development was registered principally in manufacture, mainly in the textile and chemical industry and in the sector of metallurgy, the growth rate of which tended to reach 11% during 1965-70. The other large branch where obvious economic and social consequences were brought about, was that of construction. The policy of αντιπαροχή (antiparochi, “property-swap”), a Greek invention which entailed the concession of construction land to developers in return for a share in the resulting multi-storey apartment buildings, favoured the creation of a class of small-medium contractors on the one hand and settled the housing system and property status on the other. However, it was also responsible for the demolition of much of the country’s traditional and 19th-century neoclassical architecture, and the transformation of Greek cities, and especially Athens, into a “form-less, border-less and placeless urban landscape”.
During that decade, youth came forth in society as a distinct social power with autonomous presence (creation of a new culture in music, fashion etc.) and displaying dynamism in the assertion of their social rights. The independence granted to Cyprus, which was mined from the very beginning, constituted the main focus of young activist mobilizations, along with struggles aiming at reforms in education, which were provisionally realized to a certain extent through the educational reform of 1964. The country reckoned on and was influenced by Europe – usually behind time – and by the current trends like never before. Thus, in a sense, the imposition of the military junta conflicted with the social and cultural occurrences.