OPINION

The pogrom that never was

One of PASOK’s main arguments in the runup to the poll was that a conservative victory would unleash a massive pogrom of the public sector. Remarks by New Democracy’s Vyron Polydoras that 10,000 officials would be dismissed as soon as the new government took over, were accentuated by PASOK in its ultimate attempt to rally its fighting forces. Now, nearly a month since ND came to power, the scaremongers of yesterday accuse ND of lacking the requisite number of competent and tested officials to replace current staff throughout the state apparatus. For his part, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is under strong internal party pressure for a change of guard in the public sector – which, in a sense, is a legitimate demand. For two decades, civil servants were recruited on the basis of political affiliation. The exclusion of political foes was equally unfair. As a result, for many ND cadres and followers, coming to power meant that these posts and privileges would finally change hands. Apart from turning the State into a party apparatus, PASOK also made sure there were enough posts to take care of its loyal supporters. The party nomenclature was rewarded with extravagant salaries and other provocative privileges, which were at the expense of the rest of society. The overlap between party and State resulted in widespread corruption that fueled opposition and public demands for an overhaul of the sleaze-ridden system. There is a need to cut down on the posts and privileges in the state apparatus and not to substitute pro-PASOK state-dependent officials with an equal number of ND-affiliated ones. The government is right to avoid a massive sacking of pro-PASOK staff and their substitution with its «own people.» Doing so would merely vindicate and perpetuate PASOK’s dubious practices.