Majority or strong governments?

Majority or strong governments?

Greek Premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis said three right things when he spoke recently at the Oikonomikos Tachydromos (OT) Forum. Ending the guessing game, he said that the government will see out its four-year term and elections will take place at the end of spring 2023. He also said he would not change the electoral law (again). It is institutionally and politically inappropriate for the electoral law to be changed for a second time by the same parliament. Thirdly, he said something that is self-evident but, as some reactions have shown, not everyone likes: that the Greek people will decide how they want to be governed, and if the elections do not result in an outright majority government, the country will not be dragged into a third election. Instead, a coalition government will be formed. Bearing these statements in mind, do we need absolute majority – supposedly effective – governments or really strong and stable ones?

Majority governments are often rife with brazen groups, selfish mechanisms of vested interests and corruption and party cadres lurking in the corners, waiting to pounce. Coalition governments, on the other hand, are proving strong and stable across Europe with a clear and solid common agenda.

The hunt for an absolute majority is a disease that (a) condemns Greece to be the only European country where its politicians are trained to avoid consensus and compromise, and (b) undermines reforms because it turns the necessary or even self-evident, required agreement into quarrels. But without consensus, no worthwhile reform can take place, and if it does, it will not succeed. Let’s take the work done Digital Governance Minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis and his team, for example. With the digital applications they introduced, citizens have been spared a lot of of hassle and the public administration thousands of hours of work. In a normal country, this would lead to changes in the architecture and structure of the state – which, around the world, is called upon to take on greater responsibilities. Did you see any department being abolished, underused staff being redistributed from defunct services to others that need employees? No, because no such thing was done.

Majority governments are often rife with brazen groups, selfish mechanisms of vested interests and corruption and party cadres lurking in the corners, waiting to pounce

A majority government does not have the power or the will to transform the achievement of digital applications into a policy of modernization and reconstruction of the state, because this would cause conflicts and have a political cost which it cannot/does not want to bear. If we finish with the myth of the effectiveness of majority governments, we may fall in line with the European trend toward consensus democracies.

It is no coincidence that in Europe absolute majority governments are the exception and coalition governments the rule. About 30 countries have coalition governments – in Belgium, it is made up of seven parties, in Italy of all parties except the neo-fascists, in the Netherlands and Finland of five parties, and in many others of six, four or three parties. Europe has entered an era of coalition governments, which require as a prerequisite not ideological affinity, but joint programs. It would be great for us to converge in this direction.

Political parties need to start working on their agendas – not slogans – for politics to reclaim the interest of citizens, especially young people. And, why not, for Greece to acquire a strong coalition government from the first round of elections, in 12 months, with the system of proportional representation.

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