‘We are in government now’

‘We are in government now’

Speaking in Parliament on Friday, Administrative Reform Minister Olga Gerovasili addressed opposition lawmakers saying that “now we are governing – when you are in government do as you see fit.”

She was speaking in response to criticism over the way the government chose to staff the civil service.

Her phrase is of significance. To be honest, she spoke the truth. Indeed, her comment was a clear summary of what has been going on for an eternity in both the Greek civil service and the country’s political life.

According to the European Commission’s compliance report for the country’s fourth review, 22 out of the 69 general secretaries posted to Greece’s ministries did not meet the proper qualifications. As a result, the European Union’s executive branch has demanded a repeat of the procedure to fill these posts. 

Gerovasili was forced to hold a press conference and admit the irregularity. 

And in a bid to justify what is unjustifiable, she flippantly said, “We also noticed some imperfections with regard to the qualifications [for the ministerial posts].” 

This is obviously a case of constant “imperfections” and an enduring lack of transparency which is sending the country’s finest young scientists abroad and filling the civil service with the cronies of whatever party happens to be in power. 

So if every government does as it sees fit, serving its own party clients – even after the country’s bankruptcy – and mortgages the country’s future, then how is it that the ruling coalition of SYRIZA and Independent Greeks (ANEL) insists that we are “coming out of the crisis”? 

The civil service is like a Trojan horse for every government and none has so far shown any willingness to take on the issue and send out the message of meritocracy – without which there can be no democratic functioning of the institutions. 

And if the issue of posting unqualified people to ministries is not considered a matter of utmost significance, the fact that the administrative reform minister said “We are governing now” speaks volumes.

Gerovasili’s cynical remark also reveals a disconnect with reality. The process of reproducing armies of favored civil servants must be ended.

How? Evaluations do not just concern the civil service. 

We, the citizens, are also evaluated through our choices and our vote.

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