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Fast-tracked legislation

By Nikos Xydakis

If there is one thing that defines the age of the crisis, it is the way that extremely important legislation is bundled together into one omnibus bill and then put to Parliament and voted on through rapid emergency procedures that effectively mean MPs have no time to study their content in any detail. of course the emergency procedure also means that there is no time for a proper public discussion either.

There are certainly cases where one piece of legislation could merit being passed through Parliament fast because there is a real emergency that needs to be addressed, but the systematic fast-tracking of laws, either through emergency parliamentary procedures or through acts and decrees, is an affront to the representative character of our democracy and violates the distinction of authorities by giving executive powers to elected deputies-lawmakers.

The abuse of this increased executive and legislative authority is apparent in different ways. For example, draft laws are shaped on the basis of negotiations between ministers and lobbies, small and large, but are not granted enough time to be debated by society or Parliament. Then you have all sorts of small, sly amendments that are squeezed in and basically undermine or water down the purported purpose of the bill. Other amendments change the focus of major strategies. For example, the new rules governing whether the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund can or can’t take part in Eurobank’s share capital increase could lead to substantial losses for taxpayers.

Finally, another category of bills, usually sneaky or damaging ones, are those tabled at the last minute by government officials moving into a new field of their electoral battle. For example, outgoing Alternate Environment Minister Stavros Kalafatis, a candidate for Thessaloniki mayor, submitted a bill with dozens of directives that work directly against the environment, according to reports. A common denominator is the exclusion of certain very specific cases from the mandate of environmental laws such as the legalization of all properties built on protected forestland prior to 1975, the legalization of industrial units built without the proper permits, allowing construction on the border of national parks and forests, and other such crazy regulations.

Instead of leading to wise legislation that will bring instant relief but also long-term stability, the crisis has brought the opposite: self-serving and jumbled laws that contribute to rather than help solve the problems that have put the country in this mess.

ekathimerini.com , Friday March 28, 2014 (19:52)  
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