Trampling on institutions

Trampling on institutions

The greatest damage that the current administration will leave behind is its cynical and blatant use of Greece’s institutions as tools for its own benefit. All of its institutions. We have taken steps backwards – far backwards. And all the evidence points to more developments in the next few weeks between now and the general election. 

The presence of the heads of the Greek Police (ELAS) and the Hellenic Coast Guard at pre-election rallies of the governing party, for example, is unheard of.

In the past, there were cases of party cadres, even useless party men, being appointed to sensitive positions. But they respected their rank and the institution they represented and avoided exposing themselves to such criticism.

Not only because of formalities, but also because they knew that the overwhelming majority of their colleagues would reject them if they were openly partisan. No policeman who carries out his job with professionalism will respect a superior who owes everything to his party and does not hide it.

And in justice, too, there have been cases of such transgressions. The government postponed the election until July 7, arguing that otherwise it would coincide with university entry exams. But it is more than evident that the goal is to allow it time to appoint the new leadership of Greece’s top courts during its last week in power.

Some of the selected candidates for those key posts may well be qualified and deserve to be considered by any government. The key issue here is the type of political culture that such actions promote.

It would be a great gesture, even at this point, if Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras were to call New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis with the aim of reaching an agreement on top judicial officials that would be mutually acceptable.

If the hardline views prevail, I find it hard to believe that the people who supported the current administration will choose to remain passive as they did when the first signs of institutional violations occurred.

There was a time when the reformist left of Leonidas Kyrkos or Michalis Papagiannakis stood up against such thinking.

Mitsotakis will be facing a huge challenge.

There will be a lot of pressure on him to appoint “our own boys” to key government posts. The argument will be that there is no other way to stop the corrosive impact that SYRIZA rule has had on the institutions. Giving in to such pressures however will only aggravate the vicious cycle. Greece urgently needs a paradigm shift.

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