1956 Greek legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Greece on 19 February 1956.[1] The result was a victory for Constantine Karamanlis and his National Radical Union party by securing the electoral vote despite trailing in the popular vote. It was the first general election in Greece in which women had the right to vote, although women had first voted in a by-election in Thessaloniki Prefecture in 1953 in which the first female MP was elected.

1956 Greek legislative election

 1952 19 February 1956 1958 

All 300 seats of the Greek Parliament
151 seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
Leader Konstantinos Karamanlis Sofoklis Venizelos
Party ERE DE
Leader since 1955 1948
Last election 247 seats 51 seats
Seats won 165 132
Seat change 82 81
Popular vote 1,594,112 1,620,007
Percentage 47.38% 48.15%
Swing 1.8% 14.2%

Prime Minister before election

Konstantinos Karamanlis

Elected Prime Minister

Konstantinos Karamanlis

Although the Democratic Union, a coalition of centrist parties, received a slim plurality of votes, the conservative governing party, the National Radical Union, won the most seats due to a complex and controversial electoral system enacted by Karamanlis. A "first past the post" system was applied in the rural constituencies where the ERE was expected to gain a plurality, while proportional representation was reserved for the urban constituencies, where the Democratic Union was expected to lead.[2][3] As a result, the Democratic Union came up 19 seats short of a majority.

The Democratic Union included centrist parties, as the Liberal Democratic Union led by Sophoklis Venizelos and the Liberal Party of Georgios Papandreou, as well as the left-wing EDA, led by Ioannis Passalidis. A few years later, Sophoklis Venizelos and Georgios Papandreou renounced their alliance with EDA, breaking up the Democratic Union.


In 1955, Karamanlis was chosen by the King Paul I as successor of prime minister General Alexandros Papagos, who had just died. The decision was controversial, as Karamanlis was not a leading member of Papagos' party, and caused the vehement reactions of the party's two most prominent members, Stefanos Stefanopoulos and Panagiotis Kanellopoulos.

Nevertheless, Karamanlis, thanks to the support of the royal family and his own dextrous handlings, managed to establish himself as a strong leader. After stabilizing his leadership, he dissolved the Greek Rally party and created his own conservative right-wing party, the National Radical Union, which also comprised some prominent centrists (Evangelos Averoff, Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, Konstantinos Tsatsos) and went on to dominate the Greek political scene for the next 8 years.


Party Votes % Seats
Democratic Union1,620,00748.2132
National Radical Union1,594,11247.4165
Progressive Party74,5452.20
List of Independents31,0220.92
Popular Social Party29,3750.90
Christian Democracy4490.00
Invalid/blank votes15,084
Registered voters/turnout4,507,90775.0
Sources: Ministry of the Interior, Nohlen & Stöver
Popular vote
Parliament seats