Kallikratis fails to inspire
Prime Minister George Papandreou appears to have no intention of abandoning or altering his government’s ambitious plan to redraw administrative boundaries at a local level despite fierce criticism from opposition parties and, as it emerged yesterday, from within ruling PASOK. Papandreou vehemently defended the plan, known as «Kallikratis,» which was unveiled on Sunday at a Cabinet meeting. «The Greek people voted us into power to make changes, not to tinker,» said Papandreou. Although it has many aspects, the main element to Kallikratis is the plan to do away with the 76 prefectures that currently span the country and replace them with 13 larger regions. Similarly, 1,034 municipalities will be whittled down to less than 370. Papandreou insisted that the «broad consensus» necessary for the plan to succeed does exist. However, it seems that even within his government, not everybody is convinced that Kallikratis is quite the correct way forward. Sources said that six ministers expressed their concerns about the planned changes during Sunday’s Cabinet meeting. One of their main worries appears to be that the politicians who are elected heads of the 13 regions will have too much power and influence. Each of them will have received more votes than the MPs representing that particular part of the country and in the case of Attica, which will be one region, the person in power will be responsible for more than 4 million people, making him or her an incredibly influential figure. New Democracy’s spokesman for interior affairs, Christos Zois, labeled Kallikratis a «presentation of ideas that contains statements of intent and public relations tricks.» Former Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos accused the government of not doing any of the groundwork necessary to ensure that local authorities could be merged and not working out how the project would be financed. The three other parliamentary parties also criticized the scheme.