We should consider ourselves lucky. Imagine if Greece were not a member of the European Union and the eurozone, if it didn’t have institutions and justice officials who respect their role. At best, the country would be run as it was in the cursed 80s, when a minister could force approval of a loan or appoint his gardener to head a bank with a simple phone call. This is no longer the case, though there are those who think that oversight and procedures have put the political system in a straitjacket.
There are certain officials in the present government who would love to be able to rule that way, or even better, to have the kind of power enjoyed today by the cadres of Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Vladimir Putin. They’d love to decide who a major privatization would go to or who would get the broadcasting license of a bankrupt station. When they can’t, they have no qualms about expressing their hatred for the person or institution that prevented them.
The brutal truth is that such politicians would be free to do as they liked if Greece were not in the EU and still had the drachma.
These people evoke the old system to justify their behavior and express a mentality that prevents critics from speaking up.
Yes, terrible things were done to the country – from mismanagement and waste to outright corruption – in the past by the state and by banks. But now we have honorable judges and state inspectors who have found a way to do their duty – albeit too enthusiastically at times – thanks to the tools given them by Greece’s commitments to its creditors.
The proponents of the old system owe these people an apology and should be forced to prove that they will not allow the country to operate as it did again.
Greece needs a new system of governance, not new people who do things the old way out of spite or who keep the bad ways alive. It also needs someone to wage war on corruption in a meaningful way, not by creating a new form of corruption. When the prime minister presented his program for the country, he said we were looking at a change of regime, not just of government. I don’t know what he had in mind, but thankfully we don’t have a change of regime – but neither do we have a new model of governance.