We need courage, not more laws

We need courage, not more laws

It’s a funny thing. Greece has too many laws, many of which are very complicated, and a rather wordy Constitution. At the same time, the law is in many aspects hardly or only selectively applied. Most Greek MPs are lawyers by profession, a fact that has for decades reinforced the perception that a simple piece of legislation, or an article in the Constitution for that matter, are enough to solve a problem. 

Only they are not. In fact, adding more laws cultivates an extremely complicated and nebulous web of rules and principles that works to the benefit of wheelers and dealers, those who operate on the fringes of the law and the deep public sector whose functionaries say “This is not possible” first and think later. 

Most of Greece’s problems do not require new laws in order to be solved. In fact, abolishing some of these laws would be more appropriate. And, most importantly, what is needed is political will. Not only on behalf of the political class, but of all the people in key posts: judges, rectors and so on. 

The law for example already gives the state and the rectors the necessary tools to clamp down on the lawlessness of career troublemakers at universities. With a bit of courage, professionalism and respect for the rules, Greek universities could change for the better. No amount of laws voted in Parliament will help to fix things. If a rector is afraid (fear is to some degree justified), if the politician hesitates, if the judge sees everything through a peculiarly “lax” prism and no one does their job, nothing will change. 

Worse, we will officially end up with a piece of legislation that will have been voted through after a lot of turmoil, and it still won’t be implemented. Inaction and cynicism make for a really bad mix. 

What we need is courage. It is depressing that our political class seems complacent and afraid to take risks in key areas. I understand the fear. Politicians are not supermen. 

However, all fail to understand the unwillingness to assume the responsibility for reform. Nor the reaction to every reform while sticking to the (indeed necessary) increase in funding. One would expect that critical mass of judges, academics and so on who are free from ideological obsessions and immune to corruption to finally come out and say if and what must change in this country. The recent experience of the bailout agreements at least demonstrated one thing: No reform can succeed, regardless of the parliamentary majority, unless it involves a critical degree of “ownership.”

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