Ex-premiers and expectations

Ex-premiers and expectations

At some point we need to rethink the status of politicians who belong to that small club of ex-prime ministers. I find it somewhat paradoxical that they have a guaranteed seat in Parliament, if they so wish, and stand as candidates with their party. It would be more reasonable and fair if they ran on the party ticket. All former premiers who are still in Parliament would win a seat without much of a political campaign. Doing so would also serve as proof that they have an interest in “live” politics and that they do not consider the parliamentary seat as some sort of safe job with guaranteed perks.

Other countries have a senate. The solution of an upper chamber was tried twice in Greece, but discontinued.

Former prime ministers must of course enjoy considerable privileges. This may sound uncomfortable in this day and age. However, the Hellenic Republic must make sure that a former PM has access to certain basic benefits: a decent allowance, an adequate pension, as well as security and the ability to maintain a political office. Our fellow citizens who assume the post of Greek prime minister must know that the state looks after their basic needs.

This is the case in a significant part of the Western world, even at a time when extreme populism considers this admission something of an anathema. This is after all an era where “disposable politicians” are becoming more widespread, and the pressure on politicians can be unbearable – many young and dynamic politicians are leaving politics.

The past shows that when democracy does not look after its leaders following their exit, some of them are tempted to seek employment in big private firms and are vulnerable even to offers from highly controversial sources. Such phenomena harm politics in practice and erode citizens’ trust in institutions and politicians.

That said, people too have expectations of our former prime ministers. Their experience is precious. Only someone who has been in their shoes can imagine and, most importantly, recount it. We expect them to testify their historical experience – the genuine and unadorned one. We also expect that they step in when they sense that vital and critical things for the nation are at stake. And we expect them to be bold and candid in doing so.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.