NEWS

‘I have no fixed ideas, nor do I think my proposals are faultless’

According to the prime minister, the government is likely to withdraw provisions in the new electoral law regarding a double ballot and party list, moves that have met with strong opposition from a large number of PASOK deputies. Is this true? The prime minister’s statements show that nothing is predetermined, but on the contrary there is a sincere desire to engage in dialogue. I have often said that there are no ready-made plans in my drawer, nor is there any desire to spring surprises on people. I emphasize that our final decisions will be preceded by a dialogue. I have no fixed ideas nor do I believe that my proposals are politically faultless. On the contrary. Isn’t the withdrawal of these two proposals a political defeat for the government, as they were the two main innovations in the new (electoral) system? I cannot understand people’s insistence on discussing only two points of this bill. Let us be clear about whether we want a more proportional (system) that provides a more just distribution of political forces and of the people’s vote without doing away with stable government. Do we want an electoral law that permits that – which the current one does not – that is, the opportunity for parties to cooperate… and finally, do we want an electoral law that will do away with the dependence of politics on non-political factors and which will upgrade the position of parliamentary deputies? The question for me is not the individual issues in the law but its political philosophy. We are moving toward another political culture, and the current law is raising obstacles to it. We should be looking at what is essential. You are also opening up another front: that of regional reorganization. Isn’t it a bit late to want to make changes within a few months that would normally take a few years? For the past few years, conditions have been ripe to make changes in the political system, [toward] modern government and regional reconstruction. These come under a comprehensive reform strategy. Greece by the year 2008 will need new and upgraded policies, productive structures for growth. The country does not need a map exercise by the New Democracy cadres’ Tower of Babel; it would only collapse. Karamanlis is talking about refounding the State. He talks about refounding the State and talks about decentralization as if it were simply a question of moving ministries around. ND has never been pervaded by an air of reform. It has fought tooth and nail against every attempt at reform, which it is now claiming to embrace. The times call for real changes, however, something which only a deeply progressive party can bring about. That is why we are going to win again. You have announced the reform of the declaration of assets system, to be announced this week. What can we expect? Modernization of the system, support for mechanisms that will allow for immediate and retroactive audits of declarations, the freeing of procedures at the Supreme Court, a ban on deputies and government figures participating in stock exchange transactions and offshore companies, and stricter penalties, not only for deputies but for state officials, bankers, state suppliers and staff of public enterprises.