Passing the buck?

Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s recent tendency to contend that the work of government is more than a one-man show is pretty obvious. However, he is not referring to the actual management of government – which would have been quite legitimate – but to the responsibilities for government actions. And this is, without doubt, politically reproachable. The tendency toward refusal or delegation of his prime-ministerial duties is clearly the result of Simitis’s stance against the shower of corruption allegations lodged against his ministers and aides. Because, apart from prime-ministerial inactivity, we also have the government leader’s statement that every politician follows his own path and is ultimately judged by the people. (At least he didn’t add that God would have the last judgment!) Furthermore, this week Simitis sent yet another letter to his ministers with directions, indirect admonitions and strict deadlines as regards the execution of government business – a move which demonstrates Simitis’s penchant for popular participation in his prime-ministerial mission, and for supervising his ministers. The fundamental political choices Simitis has made as prime minister – on both the domestic and international fronts – have been based on excessive power, which he has used to suppress the strongest pressure for change within his party. So what is the logic behind Simitis’s current attempts to review and adapt his original role?

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