Dangerous mixture

Greece is caught up in a frustrating mess of ineptitude and corruption which will be extremely hard to clean up.

For decades we have allowed key mechanisms of the state apparatus to disintegrate, and thus made it extremely vulnerable to graft, a process which began in the 1980s — a doomed decade.

At the beginning, it was normal that a state employee would get an ?extra little something for his holidays.? Soon it was considered natural for unionists to co-govern along with managers and directors, or to launch competitions to manage the most ?productive? tax offices. Inevitably, we now stand on the verge of a total breakdown.

Greece needs a solid leadership to rebuild these mechanisms from scratch. The administration of George Papandreou failed miserably at doing so. The reason lies somewhere between Papandreou?s OpenGov type of experimentation, his chaotic management, and the PASOK-dominated deep state which proved to have too much power over developments.

At the same time, it?s hard to explain why Papandreou?s worst decisions usually involved appointments to key posts linked to state revenues or the monitoring of state spending. It sometimes felt as if he were doing it on purpose.

In any case, Greece must at some point turn the page and start rebuilding. Putting vital aspects of the state back together should be a top national priority. It?s not unattainable, as long as there is strong will and organization.

A first step that could help in this direction would be for the country?s main political parties to agree on the appointment of certain permanent deputy ministers and general secretaries — at the ministries of Finance and Citizens? Protection, for example.

It would be even better if Greece?s main parties agreed on staffing the state mechanism with the most qualified officials from each ministry. After all, the Greek state in the past used to depend on a group of general directors and senior functionaries with excellent command of all issues.

This would put an end to the usual charade at every government change, when we see totally inexperienced deputies depending on aides who would under normal circumstances be unemployed.

We have to start somewhere. The mixture of an ailing state and incompetent politicians is exposing us to too many dangers.

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