Clientelism belongs to the past, says Mitsotakis

Clientelism as a tactic used by Greek political parties in their efforts to hold on to power is a thing of the past, according to Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Responding to an article penned by Tony Barber in the Financial Times ( “Patronage and bribery will persist in Greece even if it escapes austerity,” October 27), Mitsotakis noted that he agreed with Barber’s assessment that “the crisis has dealt a blow to the time-hallowed system of clientelism, bribery and self-enrichment that gained fresh life in Greece from the early 1980s.”

While the Financial Times article predicted that these practices would re-emerge after Greece’s “foreign overlords” took their leave, the Greek minister argued that he had reason to believe this phenomenon had been uprooted for good.

In a letter to the editor, Mitsotakis noted that Greece had “reduced the number of its civil servants by more than 200,000 over the past five years, from more than 900,000 in 2009 to fewer than 670,000 by mid-2014. The total wage bill has been reduced by 30 per cent over the same period. All hiring planning is conducted centrally by taking into consideration new organograms for all ministries, which have been the result of a thorough evaluation process of the entire central administration. All hires are handled by an independent entity, making it virtually impossible for politicians to intervene in the process.”

He also referred to new legislation putting in place a “meritocratic and objective selection system for top managers in the administration, thus addressing another area that in the past was ripe for political intervention.”

The clientelistic system had also been addressed through checking for illegal conversions of temporary contracts into positions of permanent employment and by dismissing those who bypassed the law by using their political connections, the minister noted.

“We are sending a clear message that the practices of the past can no longer be tolerated in a country which has lost 25 per cent of its gross domestic product,” Mitsotakis said.

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