OPINION

Society of pals

Ongoing revelations about tailor-made amendments highlight the fact that the administration of Costas Simitis has overstepped every limit in the political code of ethics. No one questions the right of the ruling party to enact new legislation as, officially, we are not even in the pre-election period. But that is not what is at stake here. On the one hand, there is the content of legislative proposals and, on the other, a question of method. The widespread impression over the past few weeks has been that government officials are rushing to settle in Parliament as many outstanding cases as possible. A great deal of them fail to meet the basic criteria of transparency and of serving the public interest. A closer look at the government’s last-minute amendments industry shows that it is largely a child of corruption. It has not been set up to serve the traditional cronies, the party clientele, but rather the modern depoliticized version of government cronies, which has aptly been described as «the society of pals.» As said, apart from the question of content, there is also the question of method. According to the existing code of ethics, every legislative proposal must be announced in time while its objectives and side effects (every law has its side effects) are discussed. But the officials do not seem to bother. The manner in which they whip bills through Parliament is indicative of their motives and objectives. Furthermore, the outgoing (according to opinion polls) administration is treating the crucial code of ethics-related issues as an inconvenient detail. However, its behavior degrades political morality and thereby undermines the functioning of our democracy. This is another sign of the explosive mix of establishment mentality, arrogance and self-interest – a trademark of the Simitis administration. The amendment for the hotel in Ekali carries its own special importance. This is not a Porto Carras case, in which a deputy minister and MPs played a leading role. The controversial «Edelweiss» amendment has been signed by all senior government cadres, including the current foreign minister, PASOK’s chairman-in-waiting George Papandreou. Kathimerini will not make a trial of intentions but it cannot turn a blind eye to the revelatory reports published in the Rizospastis daily. In the light of recent developments and of Papandreou’s pledges to purge the political system of corruption, it is important from a political and institutional perspective to provide sufficient explanation of the case. Otherwise, the skeletons in the cupboard will be springing out, to rattle Papandreou’s ambitious experiment of reconstituting PASOK – alias the «great democratic faction.»