NEWS

The system lives and reigns over public administration

Entangled economic and political interests set their stamp on the past decade. What began as a minor matter, mainly apparent in the area of equipment procurement, expanded with the development of private mass media and its growing political clout. A three-way connection evolved, with the media playing an intermediary role between political and economic interests, but also promoting, supporting and sometimes blackmailing them by threatening to withdraw that support. Abject dependence Political leaders became blatantly dependent on money, which to a great extent determined the direction of political and economic affairs in Greece. This system dominated the construction sector, completely took over procurements for the armed forces, largely determined the manipulation of the stock exchange in 1999 and, more recently, exploited the Olympic Games to the limit, imposing a spirit of lavishness and waste. This system of connection with power, which managed to impose the «mathematical formula» of fixing bids for competitions and even to violate the Constitution, bypassing the legislation relating to major stockholders by using other people or relatives that supposedly guaranteed financial independence, was kept under cover for many years. And it has proved to be highly deleterious. Rejecting this system, Greek voters punished PASOK at the polls and now expect a return to order, and the abolition of the conditions that allowed this entanglement and the corruption it engendered to thrive. So far, circumstances have prevented the new government from acting with the requisite speed. Resistance The urgent need to prepare for the Olympics, the usual so-called political realism which takes over any party that moves from the opposition to the government benches, and the resistance of the system itself, which is more powerful than ever before and has connections everywhere, all create a climate of caution and second thoughts. This seems to be the case in the matter of public works, which is dominated by the idea of managing the existing setup rather than the need for reform. The same climate is also apparent in the media sector, where operating licenses are being issued as stipulated by former media minister Christos Protopappas. The government says it is drafting legislation which it will bring before Parliament in the fall «to abolish the laws of entanglement.» Balancing act There is talk of abolishing the «mathematical formula,» tightening up restrictions on being a media owner and state supplier or public works contractor, and of many other decrees that will remove the damaging situation prevailing in the recent past. Yet none of this is due until fall. Until then, it seems, the government is to perform a balancing act between managing the present situation, based on the old regime, and the hopes cultivated by promised reforms.