Money and politics

Following its presentation of a draft law on so-called major shareholders which is intended to curb the illegitimate use of the media for the advancement of business objectives, the conservative administration is currently studying measures to contain the other side of political and business entanglement: the flow of what is commonly referred to as «political money.» The issue of the funding of politicians and political parties is by no means exclusive to Greece. But it has become a subject of controversy in all democratic systems that seek to strike a balance between the need to find revenue for political activity and the inevitable risk of corruption and murky dealings. On top of this, Greece faces another challenge: ensuring that any measures that are announced will not remain on paper but will be enforced. This is not overstating the case. However cliched this may sound, the fact is that Greece needs a single law – one that makes sure the rest are enforced. For all the amendments to laws and provisions within them, little has changed. Legislation most often remains a dead letter. As concerns the monitoring of political money, barring some limitations imposed on the expenditure of political candidates, it is an open secret that there are no substantial checks. The declaration of assets (known in Greece as the pothen esches) is for the most part inaccurate, and there is no in-depth investigation of the spending of parties and deputies. This is also the most significant issue. The declarations of assets are in most cases preposterous. As a result, the question of where all these politicians get all that money they are spending remains unanswered. The government, which has so far displayed a strong desire to overhaul the sleaze-ridden system, must pass legislation which will be effective not only on paper but, above all, in its actual implementation. The Greek people are tired of hearing about the hard time politicians have and, at the same time, see many of them living in opulence. To some extent political donations and subsidies are inevitable. But they should at least take place in the broad light of day. We must move from concealments and cheap pretexts to the truth. In this way at least, the people will be able to draw their own conclusions.