A historic member of the PASOK party and a former minister and deputy premier under PASOK governments, Theodoros Pangalos, died on Wednesday. The news of his death was announced by his family in a post on social media.
Pangalos was born in 1938 in a family of Armed Forces officers, including his father who was one of the first pilots of the Hellenic Air Force and his grandfather, a namesake who was a general and a dictator of Greece (1925-26).
The younger Pangalos studied law and economics and the University of Athens and joined the struggle against the junta of 1967. In 1973 he completed a doctorate at the University of Paris 1 (Pantheon-Sorbonne) in economics, where he also worked, while the dictators in Greece stripped him of his Greek citizenship which was reinstated after the junta fell in 1974.
In 1978, Pangalos ran for Elefsina unsuccessfully after having joined PASOK and Andreas Papandreou at its inception in 1974.
He first won a seat in Parliament for Attica in 1981 under the socialist party, and never lost an election after that. In Papandreou’s first cabinet, he was appointed minister of trade and later transferred to the foreign ministry as deputy minister responsible for European affairs.
Pangalos served on several PASOK committees, and was later appointed deputy premier and alternate prime minister of Greece when the socialist party won the elections of October 2009 under Andreas Papandreou’s son George. He kept this position in both cabinet reshuffles, and remained deputy premier under the interim government of Lucas Papademos.
He retired from active politics shortly before the elections of May 2012.
Commenting in an e-book he wrote in 2012 on the party’s mismanagement of European funding under the senior Papandreou, he wrote, “In one way or another, we participated in non-rational practices and behaviors through time, in relation to the state’s expenditures and revenues. What we call ‘fiscal crisis’ has been one of our own creations too.”
Messages of condolences for Pangalos’ death were conveyed by leading present and former officials on Wednesday.
Among them, Prime Minister Ioannis Sarmas called Pangalos “a leading actor in Greece’s political life,” and said he was memorable “for his sharp mind and in-depth thinking.”
In a brief message, former prime minister Kostas Simitis said that Pangalos was “a strict critic of political developments, aiming at achieving a comprehensive and accurate picture of them,” adding, “We will always remember his contribution.”
Fellow PASOK politician Evangelos Venizelos said Pangalos was “steeped in history from a very young age. He entered the post-junta landscape having already collected knowledge, academic titles, and political experiences mostly from the communist Left. He matched PASOK’s whirlpool activity.”
Under Andreas Papandreou, he added, Pangalos “identified with Greece’s fighting spirit and active participation in European accession, and expressed in the best way the sense that the EU is a field of continuous and tough negotiations. He did this in his own dynamic individual way, knowing however full well the real connections of powers and the limits placed.” Venizelos described him as “multifaceted and charming,” and a man who “stood on the right side of history” during very challenging times for the country.
The Greek Foreign Affairs Ministry expressed its deep regret over Pangalos’ death as well.
“He worked over time and devotedly for the promotion of Greek interests as foreign minister, alternate foreign minister, and deputy foreign minister,” the ministry said in a statement, adding its condolences to his family.