A pervasive rot

Parliament’s debate about corruption on Monday returned to the spotlight a problem which is developing like a cancerous growth. It is not only poisoning the morality and values of our society and causing serious damage to the public interest; it is also undermining and distorting the struggle for economic development. A recent study by Athens’s Panteion University is particularly revealing about the subject, providing statistical evidence that shows the extent of the problem. Before this study we had the various reports released by the «International Transparency» organization, which rated Greece the most corrupt member state of the European Union. But in reality, all that these reports have done is to confirm what citizens already know from everyday experience. It is an unfortunate fact that corruption has become the norm rather than the exception in public life. And it applies at every level. Graft has spread to such an extent that it now affects even legal procedures. In many cases bribery allows one to bypass procedures and laws, as a result of which rule of law is gradually being eroded. Corruption is a problem in every country, but it is virtually endemic in Greece. The most worrying thing, however, is that it is regarded as almost natural, or at least tolerable – not just by many politicians, but by citizens too. The condescension of society has ceased to act as a deterrent.