Last-minute Parliament hirings

Despite calls from both New Democracy and PASOK for greater transparency in politics and the tidying up of public finances, both parties hired handsomely paid staff at their offices in Parliament in the days leading up to the announcement of early elections as well as just a couple of days after. Kathimerini has learned that 15 people were hired between between September 1 and 4. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis called the snap poll on September 2. All 15 were hired via a system that allows MPs and ministers to directly appoint to their offices personnel who have not passed the tests that apply for other parts of the public sector. People appointed to parliamentary offices are paid 16 monthly wages a year and are enrolled in a very generous pension scheme. The timing of the appointments has raised suspicion, as 10 of the 15 were made two days after Karamanlis said elections would be held on October 4, which would give rise to the possibility that some MPs would no longer serve in Parliament after that date. Also, the appointments were made at a time when Parliament was still in its summer recess. Under the 2008 law governing hirings in Parliament, the office personnel are entitled to a contract of indefinite length if they work in the House for three months or more. Ten of the 15 appointments in September were made by New Democracy deputies and the other five by PASOK MPs. However, Kathimerini has discovered that another 15 office workers had been hired by MPs between March and September, although these hirings include one to the office of Parliament Speaker Dimitris Sioufas and one each by then Coalition of the Radical Left leader Alekos Alavanos and the president of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), Giorgos Karatza-feris. The remaining positions were to the offices of ND and PASOK deputies.