Tzannetakis was born in Gytheio in the region of Laconia in 1927. He served as a naval officer but resigned on April 22 1967, the day after the military coup which brough the dictatorship of George Papadopoulos to power. He was in prison from 1969 to 1971.
When democracy was restored in 1974 Tzannetakis joined the New Democracy party of Constantine Karamanlis, and was elected to the Greek Parliament in 1977. Between 1977 and the defeat of the ND government in 1981 he was at various times Minister for Public Works, Tourism and Defence.
The July 1989 elections left the ruling PASOK party of Andreas Papandreou without a majority, but the ND, now led by Constantine Mitsotakis, did not have a majority either. Tzannetakis then formed a government in an unlikely alliance with the left-wing Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos), which then included the Communist Party of Greece.
Tzannetakis resigned with the Synaspismos withdrew its support in 1990. Yiannis Grivas then formed a caretaker government until fresh elections could be held. Mitsotakis won these elections and Tzannetakis became Deputy Prime Minister in Mitsotakis's government, a post he held until 1993. He remained a member of the Parliament and was active in the ND organisation until the very end.
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- Curriculum Vitae on the Hellenic Parliament website