The 'shame of 1897' left an indelible mark on the political climate until
the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, and functioned as a catalyst in
arousing awareness of the insufficiency of the political status quo and of the need
for political reformation both in terms of structure and human resources.
In the army, and especially in the lower ranks, there was widespread feeling
that the involvement of the princes in the leadership of the army
and the overall inability and corruption of political and military officers were
directly to blame for the national failure. But the keen expression of popular
indignation and a generalized anti-dynastic feeling in the period after the defeat did not lead to immediate overthrow, as for a while seemed imminent, thanks to
the intervention of the Great Powers in favour of the monarchy and also to efforts of the statesmen who were afraid for their own fate. Thus,
despite its lack of popularity, the monarchy preserved
its authority intact.
At the same time, economic problems took on crisis dimensions which became even
more acute with the establishment of the International Financial Control Commission, which taxed national humiliation
yet further. In the first decade of the century a massive wave of immigration
particularly to the USA took place, reinforced to a great extent by the raisin crisis,
while in 1908 the international economic slowdown decreased the migrant remittances of Greeks abroad
and as a result the income of the native Greek population.
The political instability of the first period after the 1897 war
terminated in some respects in 1899 with the electoral victory of the Trikoupist party,
under the leadership of Georgios Theotokis. The reform programme
announced by Theotokis roused the hopes and the confidence of the masses. In his first
period of office (1899-1901) Theotokis dealt especially with the army and the raisin issue. But it was an irrelevant event, the 'Evangelika' (Gospel riots), that brought about his downfall.
The downfall of Theotokis's government caused a new political anomaly, culminating
in violent incidents such as the 'Sanidika', while governmental instability in the subsequent period (1902-4)
made the country's impasse (or 'ill luck, as it was commonly called) even more keenly felt. The Trikoupist and Deliyannist party alternated in power. In 1905 Prime Minister
Deliyannis was assassinated.
The ensuing economic crisis after the temporary recovery following the end of the war,
the towering social discontent and rioting, the ideological
confusion manifested with incidents such as the 'Oresteiaka' (a translation of Oresteia
in Demotic Greek) in 1903, all led to a pressing demand for an end to stagnation.
In 1906 Theotokis formed a new government after winning the elections.
In the autumn of that same year a small but militant opposition group of independent
deputies made its presence felt by proposing reforms and castigating the government's bad management
of politics and the administration. Their militancy and dynamism reminded the publisher of the newspaper
Acropolis, Vlassis Gavriilidis, of the Japanese reformers who turned their country in to a number one world power
and defeated the Russians in 1905; for this reason he called them 'the Japanese Group'.
This group was strongly supported by the press. Among its members were Stephanos
Dragoumis, Dimitrios Gounaris, Petros Protopapadakis, Emmanouil Repoulis,
Haralambos Vozikis and Apostolos Alexandris. Dimitrios Gounaris became minister in the
reshuffle of Theotokis's government in 1908, a fact that led to the dissolution of the group;
neither did Gounaris promote any of his reform plans.
Georgios Theotokis, who was Prime Minister for approximately a ten-year
period, notwithstanding certain interruptions, slowly reorganized the country after the defeat, despite his gradual
retreat from the progressive and reform programme of Trikoupis.
He dealt in particular with the reconstruction of the economy after the bankruptcy,
and, especially in the period 1906-9, with the reorganization of the army,
bearing in mind that international politics aimed to divide up the Ottoman Empire
and that Greece should be in readiness to stand up against imminent military confrontations.
The government's policy concerning the defence of the country and army equipment
did not allow for any measures related to social wellfare or for building up an infrastructure in the period 1906-9.
This unsettled situation, manifest already from the beginning of 1909, led to the definitive
resignation of Theotokis (after his first resignation that was revoked in May of that same year)
in the summer of 1909. He was succeeded by Dimitrios Rallis (the fourth Prime Minister in this period), who was summoned to deal with the aftermath of the military coup