Resources for rural development
in Greece


I. Administrative area distribution in Greece

II. Process of decentralization

III. Access to resources on rural development in Grece

I. Administrative area distribution in Greece


Political institutions of Greece

The Executive

Greece is a parliamentary republic since its 1975 Constitution. The exercise of powers is based on the people’s sovereignty and the rule of law. Powers only exist within the framework of the Constitution which guarantees civil liberties in detail.
The President of the Republic is the coordinator of the three branches of the State: the legislative, the executive and the judicial branches. The Parliament and the President of the Republic who is elected by Parliament, exercise legislative power. Executive power is exercised by the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister who stems from the parliamentary majority. If, by virtue of his functions, the President of the Republic is at the head of the executive branch, he nevertheless exercises only those powers conferred upon him by the Constitution and the laws of the State. The Prime Minister, whose government enjoys the confidence of Parliament, has extensive powers.

The legislature

legislative power is exercised by a parliamentary chamber.
The Greek Parliament (Vouli ton ellinon) is unicameral and has 300 members. Deputies are elected by direct universal suffrage for four years, according to proportional voting. While 288 deputies are elected directly by the electorate, 12 deputies are designated by the parties, on a pro rata basis according to the election results. Voting is obligatory for all citizens eligible to vote. This means that for all Greek citizens, voting is both a right and a constitutional duty.
Legislative power is exercised by both Parliament and President of the Republic. Parliamentarians vote for the laws that govern the State. Then the President of the Republic promulgates and publicizes the laws within one month of the vote. The President of the Republic holds the right to veto a draft law voted by Parliament if he considers it anti-constitutional. The rejected draft is then presented again to a plenary session of Parliament. If this draft is adopted by absolute majority, calculated on the total number of elected deputies, the President is obliged to render this law public, within a period of ten days after the second vote.

The judiciary

Three categories of courts with civil, penal and administrative competencies are invested with judicial powers. These jurisdictions are composed of one or more judges who enjoy functional and personal freedom.
Civil and penal courts are constituted by Courts of law, Courts of first instance and Appellate courts and finally by the Supreme court (Areios Pagos). They are the same judges that sit in all courts. They have general competence in private conflicts and penal cases. For this latter category, the Penal court includes a jury of citizens as well.
Administrative courts are competent in adjudicating administrative disputes between the State and citizens or legal persons. These juridical bodies include Courts of first instance, Appellate courts, Council of State and the Court of Audit.

Administrative division of the area

Since the Kapodistria Reform (Law 2539/1977) the national territory is divided in:

  • 13 Regions (peripheries) 4 of which are insular
  • 51 Departments (Nomoi) including Attiki which is administratively divided into 4 prefectures.
  • 900 Cities (Demes) and 133 Rural Communes.
  • 6130 Dimotika Diamerismata., These are the old communes before the administrative restructuring of the country.

    See the map of Municipalités and Departments


Territorial administration
  • in each region: the secretary general, nominated by the council of ministers which represents the government, chairs the General Council which is composed of elected Prefects, representatives of local governmental associations of the first level and representatives of socio-professional groups: Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Chamber of Technology, Geo-technical Chamber, Economic Chamber, Confederation of Civil Servants Unions, Pan-Hellenic Confederation of Farmers Cooperatives and the General Confederation of Trade-Unions.

  • in each department: the Prefect and the members of the Departmental Council whose numbers vary from 21 to 37 are elected by direct universal suffrage for 4 years. The departmental communities are entrusted with economic development, social and cultural development in their territory.

  • The cities are run by a Municipal Council composed of 11 to 41 members elected by direct universal suffrage for 4 years. Rural communes are also run by a municipal council composed of 7 to 11 members elected for 4 years charged with socio-economic development and cultural affairs. Cities and communes are responsible for the socio-economic development and cultural affairs.

Territorial communities

The 13 administrative Regions of Greece were created in 1986 to meet the needs for managing Integrated Mediterranean Programs (IPM), a few years after its accession to the European Economic Community (ECC) in 1981. Each Region is in charge of managing two large financing programs:
- The Management of the Regional Operational Program (ROP) administers the funds allocated to the regional framework of the Community Operational Program (European and national co-financing).
The Regional Development Fund which manages the funds provided by the State’s Budget, distributing these resources essentially among local communities.


II. Process of decentralization

Following a recent reform (1994), Greece embarked on a process of decentralization in which government ministries gradually devolve a part of their executive powers to the regions. Hence, the role of the regions and their administrative structure has strengthened so as to better implement their policies. The regions play an important role in regional planning and they are charged with applying national and European economic and social development policies within their geographical areas of competence.
The organization of the regional administration is based on a regional directorate. Decentralized services on the regional level therefore constitute a unified organizational body. Regional spatial planning and development, public works, urbanization, environment and health, forestry and agriculture are the main responsibilities of the new regions which receive support from the corresponding administrative units. The Secretary General of the region, assisted by regional services, fulfills his control function on two local administrative levels providing them with the necessary aid, as well as ensuring the legality of actions taken by the local administration.
The two levels of local administration, at the departmental and municipal levels, are entrusted with responsibilities within their respective geographical areas. The central government has no representation or competence at this level and its role is limited to verification and control.
Until the mid-nineties, the departments corresponded to the main level for exercising regional policy. At that time, they did not enjoy self rule powers, but as soon as decentralization reform began to take shape, the departmental administration lost a major part of the resources they used to manage once this responsibility was transferred to Regional Authorities. Although the Prefect is elected by universal suffrage, the means at his disposal for exercising a policy at the departmental level and supporting the local development process are limited, resulting in his playing a basically consultative role.
Local communities of the first degree in Greece have recently undergone (1998) a significant reform which involved an obligatory regrouping of small communes with larger local communities, the demes. For essentially historical reasons, certain communes (about 130) have been retained instead of merging them with Demes, while the other 5500 communes have regrouped to form 900 Demes. Even though the work of these new Demes has improved, especially with regard to management and organization, these regroupings do not always lead to tangible improvement in ways of managing and planning of rural territories. In most cases, these territories have been split into at least 2 or 3 Demes. Even though there exists henceforth in Greece a legal framework that promotes inter communal collaboration, these experiences are still too recent to permit an evaluation of their real efficiency.
Within the demes, the old communes now called “dimotika diamerismata” have partly remained since a Local Council is elected by universal suffrage and its chairman represents the former commune at the Municipal Council of the Demes. This notwithstanding, the scope of competence as well as the resources available to the Local Council are very limited.

III. Access to resources on rural development in Grece