First Ladies: Mrs. Dora Bakogianni

11th issue In-On

The experiences from Crete follow me: riendship, respect, hospitality

«In politics I had not chosen to be in the lead because I was afraid that I would lose a part of my personal life. I got into Parliament after the assassination of Pavlos Bakogiannis (26th September, 1989)», underlined in an interview to «In-On» magazine the member of the Greek Parliament, Mrs. Dora Bakogianni.
Moreover, she clarified that «Life in Crete where I spent my childhood has taught me to survive as a Cretan woman. I recall my grandmother, my father’s mother, in the house of who 13 first cousins used to play. In those days that television did not exist, we used to play Karagiozis and charged 50 cents (in drachmas) per person.
She used to watch us from the balcony when we were playing with my cousins and friends and when she saw us quarrelling with our friends, she used to call us and say: «I forbid you to quarrel when you invite friends at home; no matter if you are in the yard because you offer them hospitality, otherwise step outside to settle your differences.
The experiences from Crete follow me; there I learned about hospitality, friendship and what it means to be a woman from Crete. I was brought up to be respected by men and not to feel fear».
Question: In which electoral area did the first straight fight take place?
Answer: When I entered the field of politics the first straight fight was held in Evritania Prefecture, the homeland of Pavlos Bakogiannis. On November 5th in 1989, I became a member of the Greek Parliament for the first time being elected in the uninominal periphery of Evritania Prefecture. In the same prefecture I was reelected in the two following fights on the 8th of April, 1990 and on the 10th of October, 1993. Women at that time did not dare go the coffee-shop but after my election some years later they began to accompany their husbands in the coffee-shop.
Question: How difficult is it to be a woman politician?
Answer: I have overcome men’s stereotypes in politics because as a Cretan woman I have been taught not to fear and I also believe in women’s strength. Thus, on the 20th October, 2002  I was the first woman to be elected as a Mayor in the history of the city of Athens, winning with a percentage of 60,6%, which is the highest that a mayor has ever achieved in the municipality of Athens

She was born in Athens in 1954 and she is the daughter of the former Prime Minister Constantinos Mitsotakis and Marika Mitsotaki, nee Giannoukou. She speaks German, French and English. In 1968, she went into exile to Paris with her family and in 1974 after the overthrow of the Junta she returned to Greece. In 1977, she sat for an examination in the Ministry of Coordination and signed up as civil servant in the Directorate of EEC Affairs. From 1984 till 1989 she was responsible for the Political Bureau of the leader of the opposition and chairman of Nea Demokratia, Constantinos Mitsotakis.
On the 5th of November, 1989 she was elected as a member of the Greek Parliament for the first time.
In October 1990, she became a member of Mitsotakis’ government in the party of Nea Demokratia as a State Secretary to the Prime Minister and in December 1992, she took over the Ministry of Culture. In the elections of 1996, she changed electoral area and stood for Parliament in the first electoral area of Athens.
On the 22nd September,  1996, she was elected member of the Parliament with the most votes supporting  the party of Nea Demokratia  in the electoral area of  Α’ Athens in which she was reelected with the most votes again  in the elections of 9th April 2000. From September 1991 until August 1992, she was at the post of a Secretary of International Relations of Nea Demokratia being responsible to represent her party in the European Democratic Union (EDU) and in the International Democratic Union (IDU).
On February 15th, 2006 she took up the duties of a Minister of Foreign Affairs in the government of Karamanlis. In September 2006, Greece exercised the functions of Presidency for the Security Council in the United Nations. In the elections of the 16th of September 2007, she was a candidate in the sector of Α’ Athens where she was elected once again with the most votes. In the new government of Nea Demokratia she took up the duties again of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In June 2008, she was elected by the French Academy of Humanitarian and Political Sciences as a foreign associate. In January 2009, Greece took over the Presidency of the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (ΟΑΣΕ) and in June the rap session of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the state-members of the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe was held in Corfu with great success.
In the elections of the 4th of October 2009 she was elected once again with the most votes in the electoral area of Α΄Athens. On May 6th 2010, she was expelled from the Parliamentary Group and the party of Nea Demokratia upon the decision of Antonis Samaras because she adopted the resolution to vote for the financial support facility of the Greek economy.

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