The ‘guards’ are waiting

The ‘guards’ are waiting

One of the biggest problems of this government is its managerial inadequacy. I am really struggling to think of an area where the government has achieved any success, or some important work.

From public transport to public broadcaster ERT, it is obvious that the only criteria in management are: a) if the managers are “our people” and, b) how many we can appoint. Nothing more, nothing less.

Today, the country is being run by a combination of “pink guards,” officials of the old PASOK, and friends and relatives.

The fact that the state is still standing is due to a few exceptions and, most importantly, to a backbone of some 10-15 percent of employees at each ministry who systematically and quietly carry out their work, burdened with a heavy and disproportionate load.

If these people were not there, the state would have collapsed long ago. Ministers who comprehend the reality on the ground find these people and rely on them, even if they disagree with them politically. The rest prefer to trust cousins and party members.

The issue is whether the situation will change when another government comes to power.

The leader of the opposition knows all about the state’s shortcomings and is closer to the definition of a prime minister-manager.

However, the hordes of party executives, friends and relatives waiting to be appointed to hospital administrations, state organizations and other positions are terrified.

Even more terrifying is the need – deeply embedded in the culture of New Democracy and PASOK – to cater to clientele needs. Let’s not fool ourselves: No one can take on the deep state; no matter how many memorandums are passed, old habits won’t disappear.

The challenge is a big one. Can the parties that seek power commit not to appoint party officials to executive positions in the wider public sector? That they will revive the OpenGov initiative without any compromises?

But let’s say they do manage to tame their worst selves wearing an institutional straitjacket that will stop them from backtracking at the crucial moment.

Where exactly will the people who will make the difference be found? The right/left populism led to huge wage cuts for state executives. The salaries are a joke now.

Fear of the prosecutor looms as does the prospect an online lynching. In order for these people to contribute, they must be somehow fortified, so that decency is not considered a handicap in today’s jungle of public life.

If we don’t pull it off, then the “pink guards” will become blue and green, and we will continue recycling party habits stretching back decades.

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