Kallikratis programme
Coat of arms of Greece
Hellenic Republic
  • New Architecture of Self-governing Entities and Deconcentrated Administration –
    Kallikratis programme
CitationKallikratis programme (3852/2010) (in Greek). 7 June 2010.
Territorial extentGreece
Enacted byHellenic Parliament
Signed byPresident Karolos Papoulias
Prime minister George Papandreou
Signed4 June 2010
Legislative history
Bill title3852/2010
Introduced byGovernment of Greece
Amended by
Kleisthenis I Programme (2019)
Subdivisions of Greece after the 2010 Kallikratis reform.

The Kallikratis Programme (Greek: Πρόγραμμα Καλλικράτης, romanizedPrógramma Kallikrátis) is the common name of Greek law 3852/2010 of 2010, a major administrative reform in Greece. It brought about the second major reform of the country's administrative divisions following the 1997 Kapodistrias reform.

Named after ancient Greek architect Callicrates, the programme was presented by the socialist Papandreou cabinet and was adopted by the Hellenic Parliament in May 2010.[1] The programme's implementation started with the November 2010 local elections, and was completed by January 2011. It was amended by the Kleisthenis I Programme (Law 4555/2018), which was adopted in July 2018 and implemented in September 2019.[2]


Administrative reforms in the 1990s

1994 reforms under the socialist Papandreou government turned the largely dysfunctional prefectures into Prefectural Self-Government entities (PSGs) with prefects and prefectural councils both being popularly elected.[3] In return, the thirteen administrative regions of Greece, which had already been created in 1987, but in the absence of a working budget remained unable to fulfill even their limited responsibilities,[4] now assumed the prefectures' competences in regard to tax collection, European structural funding and treasury.[5]

Part of the subsequent Kapodistrias plan, Law 2539/1997 sharply reduced the number of municipalities and communities from 5.823 to 1.033,[6] after the increasing urbanization had left small communities literally dying out.[7][page needed] With a median of just 4,661.5 inhabitants, a large number of small municipalities and rural communities however remained independent. This included 88 communities with a population of less than 1000, down to Gramos with just 28 inhabitants.[8]

With the territorial reforms of the 1990s, Greece has been cited as the first southern European country to follow a coercive top-down approach for territorial reforms, an approach rather typical for northern European countries.[9] Though strengthened by the 1990s reforms, the prefectural second-tier level however did not meet expectations. Largely subverted by an uncoordinated but convergent anti-reform opposition, the reformed prefectures lost a number of important competences following court decisions. The numerous controversies largely undermined public trust in the prefectural level.[10]

The failed Kapodistrias II

After the electoral victory of the liberal-conservative New Democracy party in 2004, the Karamanlis government had initially been reluctant to pursue further administrative reforms, as it had opposed the reforms of the 1990s.[11] In a late implementation of a provision that was already part of the Kapodistrias plan, the 147 provinces, as subunits of the 51 prefectures, were abolished in 2007.

Only after the 2007 reelection did the Karamanlis government decide that further reforms were necessary to bring the territorial structure in line with the European Union's Lisbon Strategy and the requirements of the Fourth Programming Period (2007–2013).[11] The thirteen regions were planned to be combined to just six major "programmatic supra-regions" that were expected to more successfully compete for European structural funding. Municipalities would be amalgamated from 1034 down to 400, and prefectural governments reduced from 50 down to 16, in order to overcome fragmentation, to facilitate fiscal control by the state, and to create economies of scale.[12]

Putting administrative efficiency first, the top-down reform plan was criticized as subordinating questions of legitimacy and participation. Rather than being opposed by the parliamentary opposition, the plan faced obstruction by the more conservative camp within the governing party and ultimately failed.[12]

Kallikratis: New attempt at administrative reform

Following the landslide victory of the socialist PASOK in the early 2009 legislative election, a new attempt at further administrative reforms was started. The Kallikratis plan was presented to the public in January 2010, amidst the beginnings of the Greek financial crisis. While in terms of figures rather similar to the failed New Democracy plans, it was not confined to reducing the sheer number of administrative entities and their state accountability.[13] In a country which has been widely regarded as the most centralist country of the European Union,[14] with many smaller municipalities, especially rural communities being "extremely understaffed and deprived of any possibility to fulfil their tasks,"[15] an emphasis was put on strengthening the remaining authorities in terms of autonomy of self-governance, public transparency and overall accessibility to citizens.[13] At the same time, the programme aimed at reducing local government employees by 50%, from around 50.000 to 25.000 across the country.[16]

The law was adopted in May 2010 and was implemented following the November 2010 local elections comprising the constituting regional elections, which replaced provincial elections as they were held before in 2002 and 2006.[13]

Reforms as part of the Kallikratis plan

Comparison chart
Former (Kapodistrias, 1998–2010) New (Kallikratis, 2011)
decentralized agencies
of national administration
13 administrative districts
("administrative regions", Διοικητική περιφέρεια, Diikitiki periferia)
7 administrative districts
("decentralized administrations", Αποκεντρωμένη Διοίκηση, Apokendromeni Diikisi)
headed by a general secretary appointed by the Minister of Interior.
self-governing entities
51 prefectures (Νομοί, Nomi) or "nomes",
headed by a popularly elected Prefect (Νομάρχης) and governed by the popularly elected Prefectural Council (Νομαρχιακό συμβούλιο).

Some prefectures were grouped into larger administrative super-prefectures or "hypernomarchies"), while Attica Prefecture was further subdivided into four administrative prefectures ("nomarchies").

13 regions (Περιφέρεια, Periferia) or "peripheries",
headed by a popularly elected Governor (περιφερειάρχης, periferiarchis) and governed by the popularly elected Regional Council (Περιφερειακό συμβούλιο, perifereiakó symvoúlio).

Regions are further subdivided into regional units (περιφερειακή ενότητα, periferiaki enotita), often corresponding to the former prefectures, and headed by a vice-regional governor (αντιπεριφερειάρχης, antiperifereiárchis).

self-governing entities
914 municipalities (Δήμος, Dimos),
further subdivided in:
  • municipal districts (Δημοτικό διαμέρισμα) or
  • local districts (Τοπικό διαμέρισμα)

120 communities (Κοινότητα, kinotita)

325 municipalities (Δήμος, Dimos),
further divided in:
  • municipal units (Δημοτική ενότητα)
    • municipal communities (Δημοτική κοινότητα)
    • local communities (Τοπική κοινότητα)

Local administrative reform

Distribution of municipalities by orders of magnitude[17]
Population Municipalities
Before 2010 After 2011
Number Share Number Share
up to 5,000 548 53% 45 14%
up to 10,000 259 25% 28 8%
up to 50,000 186 18% 192 59%
up to 100,000 31 3% 49 15%
> 100,000 10 1% 13 4%
Total 1034 100% 325 100%

The Kallikratis Programme further reduced the number of self-governing local administrative units by compulsory merging the 1033 municipalities and communities which the Kapodistrias reform had already amalgamated to just 325 municipalities.[13] Amalgamation of communities led to a number of pre-2007 provinces being reinstated as municipalities. Altogether, Greek municipalities now reached a mean size of 31,000 inhabitants, a level comparable to many other countries in the European Union.[18]

To improve public transparency, local authorities are now generally obliged to make public all their decisions via the internet. Furthermore, a Local Ombudsman was established to support both citizens and enterprises in coping with local administrations. New Financial Committees and Executive Committees were established to help professionalize financial accounting, and to monitor the local administrations. In communities with more than 10,000 residents, a Committee for the quality of life and a Consultation Committee is established. Aimed at improving local allocation of municipal resources, the Consultation Committee consists of representatives of local stakeholders such as businesses, trade unions, chambers and NGOs.[19]

Regional administrative reform

At the same time the programme abolished the 51 self-governing prefectures (NUTS 3), leaving them only in place as regional units. The former prefectures' competences were transferred to the 13 NUTS 2-level administrative regions (Διοικητική περιφέρεια, Diikitiki periferia or "administrative region"). Originally introduced in 1987, the regions had been strengthened in 1993 as intermediate administrative units for regional planning.[7][page needed] Under the Kallikratis Programme, these regions became self-governing, separate entities with a regional council and a regional governor, both popularly elected.[20]

In return, the central tasks of the national administration were transferred to seven larger, newly created "decentralized administrations" (Αποκεντρωμένη Διοίκηση, Apokendromeni Diikisi). Headed by a general secretary appointed by the Minister of Interior, the decentralized administration is responsible for regional planning and environmental protection.[21]

Subsequently, from 2010 on, subnational elections were held at the regional rather than the prefectural level, and from 2014 on, they are held together with the European Parliament elections for a five-year period.[22]

Overview: post-Kallikratis subnational entities[18]
Decentralized administrations Regions Number of municipalities
Macedonia–Thrace Central Macedonia 22
Eastern Macedonia and Thrace 38
Epirus–Western Macedonia Western Macedonia 12
Epirus 19
Thessaly–Central Greece Thessaly 25
Central Greece 25
Peloponnese–Western Greece–Ionian Islands Peloponnese 26
Western Greece 19
Ionian Islands 7
Attica Attica 66
Aegean North Aegean 8
South Aegean 34
Crete Crete 24


Scholarly assessments

Scholars of Southern European studies have described the Kallikratis reform as surprising, as it abolished a great number of prestigious and powerful political posts, which ahead of the looming crisis would have been regarded indispensable for keeping party clientelism alive. Bertrana and Heinelt described the Papandreou government's decision as using a singular window of opportunity to overcome long-standing resistance against reform. While in regard to the massive-scale top-down approach deviating from a Southern European strategy,[9] compared to federal states such as Germany, interaction between national and subnational levels remains relatively weak with the subnational levels remaining strictly separated from the deconcentrated administration of the central government.[23] Also, state supervision remains largely confined to a posteriori control[23] of the legality of a subnational entity's activity.[24]

Howard Elcock suggested that in spite of all efforts, officialdom's reluctance makes securing transparency a continuing struggle, so the Greek citizen remained an administré rather than a participant in government[7][page needed]. Unnecessary decimation of local community organization led, in several occasions, to further minimization of participation. In the meantime, the hasty manner through which the law came into action paralyzed local authorities' initiative and independent funding.[25]

Kallikratis and austerity

Akrivopoulou et al. pointed out that the Kallikratis program needs to be seen in the context of the general effort to create a smaller state. They point to specific provisions in the First and even more so in the Second Memorandum concerning the role of local governance for overall austerity.[26]

Nicos Souliotis pointed out that the Kallikratis plan fosters the transfer of austerity policies to the local administrations, as the devolution of responsibilities to the subnational levels has not been accompanied by the transfer of the financial resources required to fulfil the responsibilities.[27][page needed]

See also


  1. ^ "Law 3852/2010" (in Greek).
  2. ^ "Law 4555/2018" (in Greek).
  3. ^ Hlepas & Getimis (2011), p. 425 f..
  4. ^ Vamvakas (2012), p. 26.
  5. ^ Vamvakas (2012), p. 29.
  6. ^ Vamvakas (2012), p. 31.
  7. ^ a b c Elcock, Howard (2014). "Greece". In J. A. Chandler (ed.). Comparative Public Administration. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-56927-9.
  8. ^ "Detailed census results 1991" (PDF) (in Greek and French). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-03.
  9. ^ a b Bertrana & Heinelt (2013), p. 83 f.
  10. ^ Hlepas & Getimis (2011), p. 427 f..
  11. ^ a b Hlepas (2011), p. 76
  12. ^ a b Hlepas (2011), p. 77
  13. ^ a b c d Hlepas (2011), p. 84
  14. ^ Hlepas & Getimis (2011), p. 431.
  15. ^ Hlepas & Getimis (2011), p. 425.
  16. ^ OECD; Korea Institute of Public Finance (2012). Institutional and Financial Relations across Levels of Government. OECD Fiscal Federalism Studies. p. 33. doi:10.1787/9789264167001-en. ISBN 978-92-64-16689-9.
  17. ^ Hlepas (2013), p. 261.
  18. ^ a b Hlepas (2013), p. 260
  19. ^ Hlepas (2013), p. 267.
  20. ^ OECD (2014). "Greece". OECD Regional Outlook 2014 Regions and Cities: Where Policies and People Meet. OECD Regional Outlook. OECD Publishing. p. 242. doi:10.1787/9789264201415-en. ISBN 978-92-64-20140-8.
  21. ^ Hlepas (2013), p. 265.
  22. ^ Skrinis, Stavros (2013). "Greece: Five typical second-order elections despite significant electoral reform". In Régis Dandoy; Arjan Schakel (eds.). Regional and National Elections in Western Europe: Territoriality of the Vote in Thirteen Countries. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-137-02543-2.
  23. ^ a b Bertrana & Heinelt (2013), p. 79.
  24. ^ Dacoronia (2012), p. 373.
  25. ^ "Ανάβρα: Το θαύμα που... έσβησε". 2017-09-23.
  26. ^ Akrivopoulou, Dimitropoulos & Koutnatzis (2012), p. 664.
  27. ^ Souliotis, Nicos (2013). "Athens and the Politics of the Sovereign Debt Crisis". In Kuniko Fujita (ed.). Cities and Crisis: New Critical Urban Theory. SAGE Publications. pp. 237–270. ISBN 978-1-4462-5219-2.