The political consequences of the agrarian reform and the new role of the state during the interwar period
The article focuses on interwar Greece after the exchange of populationswith Turkey in 1923. The arrival of 1, 2 million refugees to a state ofabout only 5 million people deeply affected Greek economy, societyand politics. One significant change was the expansion of the state andits institutions so as to respond effectively to the survival needs of therefugees.The state became much more important to the everyday life of theGreeks when it initiated the confiscation of large land properties, whichwere given to landless local and refugee peasants. This agrarian reformhad major effects on Greek politics since small landowners allied withthe ruling political elite, represented by the two major parties of the era,the Venizelists and Antivenizelists. By voting en masse for these twoparties, the farmers showed only minimum support for the communistor the agrarian political party, demonstrating their faith in democracyand parliamentarism.Agrarian reform in combination with pro-farmers measures (massiveloans of the banks and substantial tax reduction) greatly benefited thelandowners. On the other hand, excessive lending and the fact that thefarmers had not been given their final titles of ownership made themdependent on the politicians. However, the latter needed their vote, sothey did everything they could to help them overcome their difficulties.Banks, jurisdiction, police and other state institutions were controlledby the politicians who were elected by the farmers. The result was alack of class conflict, a situation which contrasted sharply with the majorGreek cities, where bloody confrontations between police and workersoften happened. The mutual interdependence between politicians andfarmers helped maintain social cohesion and parliamentary democracyuntil 1936, when the King of Greece approved the establishment of adictatorship under Ioannis Metaxas.