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Maria Damanaki (Greek: Μαρία Δαμανάκη) is a Greek politician, former president of the Synaspismos party of the radical left and currently a state member of the Hellenic Parliament within the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK).


She was born in Agios Nikolaos, Crete, in 1952, and studied chemical engineering in the National Technical University of Athens. As a student, she became a member of the Communist Youth of Greece, the youth section of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), but also became actively involved in the antidictatorial struggle and took part in the Athens Polytechnic uprising. Damanaki was the voice of the famous "Εδώ Πολυτεχνείο" ("This is the Polytechnic") radio broadcast from within the uprising, calling Greek citizens out to support; she was arrested and tortured by the regime.

From 1977 to 1993 she was consistently elected member of the Hellenic Parliament, first with the Communist Party and then with Synaspismos, the new party she became president of in 1991. This made her Greece's first female party president.

In the Greek legislative election, 1993, the failure of Synaspismos to pass the 3% threshold in order to enter in the parliament was a near disaster for the party, and Damanaki was personally held responsible. She resigned from the presidency and was succeeded by the lawyer Nikos Konstantopoulos. Under the leadership of Konstantopoulos, Synaspismos managed to re-enter parliament in 1996.

She was a candidate mayor of Athens twice, in 1994, supported by Synaspismos, and in 1998, supported by both Synaspismos and PASOK; in the latter year she came second, defeated by Dimitris Avramopoulos, supported by the conservative party of New Democracy.

Damanaki found herself disagreeing with many policies of Synaspismos with Konstantopoulos as president, notably the fact that the mainstream of the party and Konstantopoulos himself disfavoured the possibility of cooperation with PASOK, of which she was an ardent advocate. She was publicly expressing her annoyance against her own party's policies, creating a confusion amongst the Greek public as to Synaspismos' political profile.

In 2003, a few months before the election, she resigned from Synaspismos and gave up her seat in the parliament. When George Papandreou succeeded Costas Simitis to the leadership of PASOK, she decided to join with him, while after her departure from Synaspismos she had ruled out the prospect of her joining PASOK.

She was elected state MP in the same year's election, this time with PASOK, and integrated within PASOK's hierarchy quite successfully, undertaking many critical tasks of the opposition and parliamentary work. Currently, Damanaki is the coordinator of education and culture issues of PASOK. However, her acceptance by PASOK's supporter base is a matter of question, with low scores in popularity polls targeting PASOK's voters and many people suggesting that she would not be elected if she had personally to be voted in .¹

Maria Damanaki is also the writer of two books "The female face of power" (Το θηλυκό πρόσωπο της εξουσίας) in 1995 and "The return of Politics" (Η επιστροφή της Πολιτικής) in 2001, both in Greek.

In November 2009 she was nominated as the representative of Greece in the European Commission and on 27 November 2009 was nominated as the Commissioner-designate for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
See also

Politics of Greece


¹ According the Greek Constitution and the election law (as of 2003), the number of state MPs of each party is determined by its overall countrywide percentage, and the state MPs are chosen from an ordered list predefined by the party itself, not the voters. Unlike state MPs, locally-elected MPs are subject to the voters' preferences.
External links

Maria Damanaki Official Media Gallery
Maria Damanaki, her official site in Greek
Curriculum vitae on the Hellenic Parliament website

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