The ‘Executive State’ and its enemies

The ‘Executive State’ and its enemies

Leaders of opposition parties cannot get enough of criticizing the “Epiteliko Kratos” (perhaps best translated as “Executive State”) whenever they attack the government. Their statements may contain some sarcasm – that we talk of an “Executive State” without possessing one. But the vehemence of the attacks on the “Executive State,” as in Alexis Tsipras’ statement on Thursday calling for a vote of no confidence in the government, suggests that the real target of the attacks is the idea that there should be a system for the credible planning, coordination and evaluation of the state mechanisms and their work.

Mockery and dismissal of the “Executive State” is part of one of the civil wars raging since the establishment of the Greek State – between the supporters of a central government and those who prefer the distribution of powers in an environment that is perpetually shifting and murky.

The enemies of a central administrative system are not determined by ideologies but by their mentality. There are people across the political spectrum who prefer the existence of feudal divisions and the fragmentation of responsibilities so that each can lord it over his small portion of power. It was therefore an important, symbolic act, that the first piece of legislation presented by the Mitsotakis government, shortly after its election in 2019, established an “Executive State” in which the prime minister’s office coordinates the work of government and the central administration. This alone makes the “Executive State” a target for the opposition. The idea that a government wants to control and coordinate power structures is anathema to those who are without power.

However, failures in the work of government and the State (as in dealing with the recent snowstorm) show that powerful enemies lie within the walls, too. Despite the ambitious plans, the digital means and the new administrative structures, execution of strategy stumbles on “traditional” power structures, on the lack of credible plans in ministries, on services that do not communicate with each other adequately.

Establishing an “Executive State” is a necessary and important step. What is needed now is that it be made to work. Mistakes must be corrected, not repeated. The continuous attacks upon it, on the one hand, and its subversion from inside, on the other, are mistakes that have been repeated for centuries, at great cost to the State and citizens.