Revelations related to the controversial resort development bill – tabled by the ousted Deputy Finance Minister Christos Pachtas – which was tailor-made for the owner of the Porto Carras hotel resort and distinguished PASOK crony, have roused public ire. Repeated corruption scandals have underscored the greed of ruling Socialist officials and shaken people’s confidence in politics and politicians in general. Things have come to a head. The deputies who signed the doubtful amendment are pleading ignorance, pretending they did not know what they were signing. The government is dodging the implications although its minister, a man who monitored the distribution of hundreds of billions of drachmas, was the root of the problem. The citizens rightly feel that they are engulfed in a sea of corruption, which estranges them from the government, or even makes them hostile toward it. People feel deceived and humiliated because most of them truly believed Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s pledges to modernize the country – only to find out that the rhetoric about the Europeanization of Greece’s economy was nothing but a cover for developing a gigantic network of clientelist relations. PASOK’s reformist core under Simitis was eager to denounce Andreas Papandreou’s policies but then went on to establish a system of political and business entanglement that can be compared to the corrupt governments in Africa and Central Asia. This malodorous and pervasive corruption corrodes the foundations of our democratic system. There is an urgent need to impose transparent management, to restore the image of democratic institutions and to see the emergence of a credible party with a radically different view of political values and morality. Inevitably, this burden falls on the shoulders of the New Democracy party. The conservative opposition must realize that this will be its first task, should it win the March 7 elections. More than the implementation of its program, citizens expect New Democracy to restore morality and democratic institutions, equality before the law and honest administration. New Democracy will be judged strictly on this issue and without hope for a period of grace. This is because PASOK’s unprecedently corrupt governance has roused deep public concern over the consequences. People are eager to see action that will convince them that the course of things is reversible.

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