Substantive debate and ministers who listen

Substantive debate and ministers who listen

The discussion on legislation streamlining the public administration at the committee level in Parliament had all the hallmarks of a politically civilized debate.

The bill foresees the separation of party politics from management in order to ensure that the state operates more efficiently and with greater continuity, regardless of who is in power and that its workings are not inhibited every time there is a change of government. At the same time, the new measures also aim to ensure that the public sector functions with greater transparency and integrity.

The civilized tone of the discussion, the constructive criticism that was expressed and the overall sense of a sincere exchange of ideas and opinions resulted in a string of amendments that incorporated many proposals from the opposition. At the end of the day the positive atmosphere resulted in an improved bill that moved to the full House for discussion on Monday.

All of the participants on the Committee for Public Administration need to be applauded for the outcome. The former minister of administrative reform in the SYRIZA government, Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou, publicly lauded the stance of State Minister George Gerapetritis, stressing that “he showed a very creative and positive mood.”

The opposition MPs who took part in the discussion are also to be commended. They came forward with well-constructed arguments and proposals, rather than restricting themselves to the usual mindless criticism. Even the objections lodged by government MPs, something rare in the Greek political system, are a healthy sign. The elected representatives of the people are thinking political beings, capable of critical thought that is obviously colored by their ideology, but should not be entirely determined by it.

The readiness of ministers to hear other opinions, to respect a different point of view, and to adopt many of the opposition’s proposals sends a welcome message both on a symbolic and a practical level concerning the more effective operation of Parliament.

It also gives reason for hope that perhaps something is being done about the chronic problem of public sector policies and processes being determined according to which party is in power and which politician heads a specific ministry.

This government has been in office for just four weeks but we already have enough examples of dignity and a willingness to listen. It’s a welcome reality that challenges the view of those who insist on an ideologically driven baseless criticism which often leads to twisting reality as is the case with some who have used the pages of the most reliable foreign media in order to attack the new government for “hard-right” traits and “authoritarian” behavior.

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