ATHENS, Oct 4 (Reuters) - The heirs to two of Greece's most powerful political families faced off for third time on Sunday, this time with socialist George Papandreou the election victor after two defeats.
Outgoing conservative Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, nephew of the elder statesman Constantine, called the vote halfway through his second term, seeking a new mandate to deal with the slowing economy in the euro zone's weakest link.
Papandreou, son of the late prime minister Andreas, advocates taxing the rich and supporting the poor, and aims to jump-start the economy with a 3 billion euro ($4.35 billion) stimulus package.
Both are from a handful of families that have dominated Greek politics on and off for decades. Here are some facts about the two main ones:
* Constantine Karamanlis (1907-1998) served as prime minister and president of Greece and remains a towering figure in Greek politics. A lawyer, he was first elected to parliament in 1936 and his political career spanned much of Greece's post-war politics.
* Self-exiled to France in 1963, he returned to Greece when the 1967-1974 military junta collapsed to restore democracy. He organised a referendum that abolished the monarchy, legalised the communist party and founded the conservative New Democracy party in 1974 to win elections that year and again in 1977.
* He negotiated Greece's European Union accession and moved to the presidency in 1980, a year before formal EU entry. But his party lost 1981 elections to the Socialists, who went on to rule Greece for most of the next 20 years.
* His brother Achilleas is a long-serving member of parliament but it was one of his nephews, Costas, who was asked to lead the party after an election defeat in 1996.
* Costas Karamanlis, an MP from the northern city of Thessaloniki, swept a wave of discontent with decades of socialist graft to bring the party back to power in 2004 on an anti-corruption ticket. He pushed key privatisations but his government was soon dogged by allegations of fresh scandals.
* Karamanlis, 53, barely won a second election in 2007 after destructive forest fires but his slim, one-seat majority and internal strife made governing difficult during the world economic crisis. On Sept. 2 he called the snap election.
* George Papandreou (1888-1968) was one of modern Greece most prominent politicians and served several times as prime minister during turbulent times. A liberal, he was first elected to parliament in the early 1920s, more than once served as minister and was sent to exile for opposing the monarchy.
* Known as 'the old man of democracy' he founded the Union of the Center party and crossed political swords with the elder Karamanlis several times. His clash with the palace in the mid-1960s set the stage for the 7-year junta that put him under house arrest, where he died in 1968.
* His son Andreas (1919-1996), a U.S. university professor of economics, served as minister in centrist governments and founded the Socialist Panhellenic Movement (PASOK) in 1974 with the fall of the junta and led his party to Greece's first socialist government in 1981, defeating the elder Karamanlis.
* He served as prime minister twice, launching social reforms and spreading EU funds to the impoverished countryside but also antagonising Greece's traditional Western allies. His government was rocked by scandals in the late 1980s and his health later declined, forcing him to resign from the party in 1996, six months before his death.
* His U.S.-born son, George Papandreou, 57, a sociologist first elected to parliament in 1981, served as foreign and education minister in socialist governments. He took over the helm of PASOK shortly before its 2004 defeat to Costas Karamanlis' conservatives and lost one more time to his rival in 2007. It was third time lucky for Papandreou on Sunday.
((For stories on the election, click on))
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