A share in the spoils

The pressures on Costas Karamanlis’s government from DAKE, the New Democracy union, were to be expected. Such behavior was quite intense back in the ’80s, when members of PASKE, the PASOK-affiliated union, sought an equal share in decision-making along with the Socialist elite. Many years have passed since then and the power of ideology has waned to the point that it can no longer be used as a pretext. ND unionists are acting under the banner of undoing the PASOK-imposed system. In truth, they are only claiming a share of the spoils of ND’s electoral victory. They want a say over appointments so as to reinforce their patron status. Seeing partisanship as a means of getting rewards is deep-rooted. Nepotism is not the rule anymore but remains strong. On the other hand, the fiscal crisis allows no room for electioneering based on mass hirings. Although many changes were made to the state apparatus following the March elections, it was nothing like a pogrom. Karamanlis took a cautious approach for reasons of political symbolism and so as not to put the brakes on state performance, given the long abstinence of pro-ND officials from key positions. There is little risk that pro-PASOK staff will seek to undermine the administration, as most had allied with the Socialists out of self-interest. It’s a sad reality but it would be unfair to lay all the blame on employees’ opportunism and overlook more serious systemic defects. The premier must overcome DAKE’s resistance without undermining his strategic goal of solidifying the circumstantial majority he attracted in the March vote. Moderation is the key here. He cannot afford to turn a deaf ear to ND pressures to take care of «its own boys» nor can he risk his newfound support by succumbing to union demands. The question is whether equilibrium can be achieved via a political solution or disciplinary action.

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