OPINION

Set in stone

Since March 2004, Costas Karamanlis’s New Democracy government, as a political force for national reform, has been called upon to do what the «reformist» PASOK governments (under Costas Simitis) did not do. This is certainly no easy task. Any policy, once it is decided upon and planned, has to confront the harsh reality that the Greek state has been so corroded over so many decades, that certain practices and mentalities are so entrenched that it repels anything that is truly reformist, productive or necessary for the reorganization of the nation. It is this reinforced concrete that the New Democracy government will have to break up if it wants its policies – to modernize the economy, state administration, educational system and civil services, its plans to improve the quality of life generally – to bring results at some point in the future. If the government’s leaders do not throw all their weight behind this effort, decisions such as those recently announced to reduce state spending and increase revenues or to establish a «Rambo» force to police fiscal expenditures will be completely ineffective. Partisan politics have corrupted the state and drastically reduced its productivity. In seeking to attribute the blame for this situation, all the country’s political forces should realize that they have much to answer for, but it was during the 20 years of PASOK governments that partisan politics peaked in the state administration, where hierarchies, values and virtues have virtually disappeared. Instances of corruption in various services, over time, created entangled interests that were so extensive and powerful that they became accepted by society, in accordance with the mentalities cultivated by both the old guard as well as the reformists in PASOK. In fact, if what is being called the «rebuilding of the state» is to succeed – that is, if Prime Minister Karamanlis manages to actually implement policies that are painful but necessary, and if legality is strictly observed, he will have to make haste in locking horns with the monster, without any thought of the possible cost to his party. Already a number of government decisions are either not being enacted at all or else are moving at a snail’s pace, caught up in the rusty cogs of a state machine that is pervaded by bureaucracy, corrosion and indolence.