More than just a moral problem

The government and the prime minister have failed to grasp – or so it seems – the extent and the depth of the disclosures which have come to light after the forced resignation of Deputy Public Order Minister Evangelos Malesios. Otherwise, they would not have claimed that this is no more than a typical business tiff in which they do not wish to interfere. It is a major faux pas, however, to believe that they can confront the looming crisis by evading their responsibilities instead of making the requisite political decisions. According to allegations and, unfortunately, confessions made by political figures of the reformist bloc inside the Socialist government, close aides of Prime Minister Costas Simitis are said to have established illicit ties with newly minted businessmen who come from similar political backgrounds and who have been implicated in stock market speculation at the expense of small investors. Moreover, government policy of supporting businesses by granting them state-supplied contracts has also done great harm to the public sector. To put it simply, public money and state commissions are used to create businessmen. Politicians then establish connections with these businessmen and cooperate with them in order to speculate on the stock market at the expense of small investors, who have lost an enormous sum of money in stocks. At the same time, these people have caused huge economic damage to the country by wrecking the bourse, once the most dynamic factor behind national growth. Should government officials pledge to launch an investigation making assurances that this will get to the heart of the matter, they are bound to become the target of public scorn, for their credibility has been completely tarnished. It is commonly believed that there is something rotten in the kingdom of the ruling Socialists as a whole. This public impression of widespread political and business entanglement has become a stumbling block to the smooth functioning of the government and the country’s political life in general. This is more than just a moral problem. It is in fact a deeply political one and mandates courageous political decisions – first of all on the part of the prime minister.