OPINION

Editorial

Early in August of last year, Kathimerini castigated the government’s habit of introducing non-urgent amendments and bills during the summer period so that these would escape people’s attention, thus minimizing potential reactions. Yesterday, the final day of the year’s legislative work, Parliament witnessed another type of violation of parliamentary procedures, typical of the winter period. This was the government’s attempt to settle crucial issues through a series of last-minute amendments of various bills, a practice which results in the destruction of parliamentary debate and the fragmentation of the law’s unity. Urgency is the permanent excuse for justifying this lack of due process. This urgency is not a result of time pressure but of government tardiness. Yesterday, House Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis’s insistence on the rules of order and conservative New Democracy’s refusal to consent to the ballot on the amendments prevented this unacceptable practice from yielding fruit. As a consequence, several issues, such as the taxation on repos, the setting of new prices for medicines and the adaptation of the land register process to the new constitution will be settled by a legislative enactment, that is by a legislative instrument which is used to deal with urgent or unexpected events rather than longstanding issues. The fact that the government has once again resorted to this practice while the entire Parliament has on occasion castigated the notional and systemic fragmentation of laws caused by intercalary and irrelevant amendments not only betrays the fact that it refuses to comply with the constitution but also that it is essentially leaving major issues to the last moment. This is at odds with the image of a serious and organized government promoted by the prime minister. But this is only one side of the coin. The second and, morally speaking, more important issue is the government’s lack of respect for Parliament’s rules of order. It does not apologize, admit its tardiness or at least attribute the last-minute rush to objective obstacles but rather lashes back as if the opposition were absurd to insist on observing the rules of order. More than impunity itself, this reaction shows that the government sees itself as an establishment that perceives constitutional and legislative procedures not as a self-evident commitment but as a nuisance which can occasionally be by-passed. In the summer of 1994, Parliament’s investigative committee for the wiretaps had sent the case to the Special Supreme Court. At the last moment, PASOK, knowing that the conspiracy would collapse, revoked the charge despite my persistence that ‘What you are doing is immoral,’ as I said at the time.