OPINION

Anti-democratic bent

PASOK and its outgoing administration are keen to speak on behalf of the «democratic faction» (parataxi, or something larger than a party), reckoning that this provides them with an alibi for their blatantly and provocatively anti-democratic posture and for their deeply anti-democratic treatment of political institutions. Evidence is provided by the government’s latest initiative. Undaunted by the fact that the current Parliament is set to dissolve soon, the Socialist government went on to table eight bills. What is more, it plans to table another seven – making a total of 15 bills – and for this reason it will extend the tenure of the current Parliament by a week and trim the duration of the official campaign period by an equal period. Regardless of the significance of these laws, it is certain that the remaining 20-day period leaves no room for any in-depth examination, serious discussion or ballot on the 15 bills. That would mean roughly one bill for each parliamentary session, provided that the assembly’s remaining legislative sessions are indeed 15. Moreover, it is questionable whether Parliament is in any position to discuss the proposed legislation. The assembly has practically been dissolved, and the deputies have neither the time nor the concentration to deal with serious legislative work. Note that attendance at recent parliamentary meetings has been low. There are three explanations and all of them underscore an equally anti-democratic bent. A first explanation is that the government has put the tabling of the bills and its legislative powers into the service of its communication tactics. It matters little whether the legislation passes, so long as the entire move advertises the government’s initiative. A second – very likely – interpretation is that this is a last-ditch attempt by PASOK to take care of political allies and friends. But there is also a third possible explanation: The bills were drawn up by the administration of Prime Minister Costas Simitis and they bear the signature of the responsible ministers but the aim is not to have them voted in. Should New Democracy be elected, the new administration would quickly discard them. However, if George Papandreou wins the elections, these will be something like a binding heritage, which will give the impression of continuity between the Simitis and Papandreou administrations. Each of these interpretations, or all of them taken together, paint a picture of anti-democratic behavior and violation of institutions.