OPINION

Jobs for the boys

According to sources, groups of New Democracy voters are putting pressure on party deputies, who are in turn pushing the administration to appoint «their own people» to posts in the state machinery and replace the followers of the ousted PASOK party. These calls reflect a very dangerous mentality that can engender highly undesirable consequences. The government is not worried. However, it must make it crystal-clear to everyone that it is certainly not going to recreate the relations of patronage and clientage which flourished during the rule of the previous administration. Conservative Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis pledged repeatedly during the electoral campaign period that he would represent all Greeks – both those who voted for him and those who did not. A vote is not a bill of exchange that the voters rush to cash when their favorite party is elected to power. A second thing that the conservative leader must make clear is that a citizen’s position in the broader state machinery is determined by law. Anyone who illegally holds a post must and should be removed. But no government has the right, or the power, to fire someone who legally holds a public post, regardless of his political convictions or party preference. The government has no right to replace a civil servant with a friend of the party, to transfer him, or demote him. His post is protected by law. Otherwise, the rule of law that the prime minister pledged to restore becomes meaningless. The principles of equality before the law and equality of opportunity were brutally contravened in the past and the sense of injustice and partisan rage that the violation aroused among the general population was one of the fundamental causes behind the defeat of the Socialist party in the last general election. The voters decided to vote PASOK out of power because they wanted to overturn its establishment mentality and its preferential treatment of party followers. The electorate wanted to see an end to this sort of political administration. In times of high unemployment and uncertainty, it is natural that deputies come under strong pressure from the party base – which they are perhaps also mixing with their own private complaints. However, the government has, above all, an obligation to restore political morality and reinstate the rule of law.