NEWS

Leaders united on graft

In a rare display of political harmony, PASOK and New Democracy appeared to find plenty of common ground during a meeting of parliamentary party leaders yesterday when methods of tackling corruption and increasing transparency were discussed. Prime Minister George Papandreou appeared to have the full backing of ND leader Antonis Samaras on a range of proposals that were discussed during the leaders’ council. These included the publishing of state procurements on the Internet, the ability to set up parliamentary investigative committees on the initiative of a minority of MPs and the inclusion of migrants in the social security system. Such meetings are rarely convened but Papandreou had made it a priority when he was voted into power. He used the discussion as an opportunity to present his proposals for stamping out graft and taking measures to rebuild citizens’ trust in the political system, which have both been touchstones of his vision for Greece. The prime minister said that tackling graft was an issue of «the utmost national importance» as he proposed that the funding of political parties be changed so that only party members could donate money and that all donations should be made public. He also suggested that any politicians found to be making false declarations on their source of wealth («pothen esches») should face criminal proceedings. Papandreou additionally proposed that an initiative by just 120 of the total 300 parliamentary deputies suffice to form a committee to investigate suspected corrupt practices by MPs or members of the government. This would mean that opposition parties could instigate the setting up of such panels. Samaras agreed to this measure with the proviso that the probes would begin with the 1999-2000 stock market bubble that occurred under a previous PASOK government. Samaras’s only real objection was to PASOK’s plan to change the country’s electoral law in favor of one similar to Germany’s. The five party leaders agreed that a committee should be set up in Parliament to come up with proposals by next June about how corruption in Greece can be tackled.