OPINION

Inconsistent policy

The tragicomedy we have been witnessing with the government’s attempts to demolish illegally constructed properties shows how complicated it is to settle such matters. Dozens of laws, decrees and reforms – always passed during pre-electoral periods – together with thousands of court rulings, make any kind of intervention practically impossible. In other words, state demolition teams cannot dislodge a single brick without getting involved in complex procedures to overturn earlier decisions. And because lower-level state employees who handle such matters are aware of the deadlock, they pass the buck to their superiors who agree that «illegal properties must be knocked down» but do not take any action to ensure that they are. If we look to the past for examples, we can see that the number of illegally built properties actually demolished can be counted on one hand, and also that these demolitions were never undertaken on the basis of a fixed plan. Mostly it was the will of local citizens and municipal authorities which provoked the action. But because local authorities are often also involved in illegal construction, they generally avoid getting mixed up in anti-populist initiatives. Thus, the (often highly profitable) practice of illegal property construction flourishes, and the government waits until the middle of an election campaign to reward these violations.