The ‘PASOK system’

The recent fuss concerning the allegedly extravagant perks enjoyed by the chairman of the Agricultural Bank of Greece is indicative of a more general problem facing the conservative government. After 14 months in power, New Democracy has yet to conduct a real audit of the PASOK-installed system of governance. Despite their fierce criticism of the so-called «PASOK system» before the elections, the conservatives have taken almost no steps to «reinvent the state,» which they once promised to do. The PASOK system functioned in the open and served specific interests. Its goals and methods were also known to everyone. Lavish payments made, extravagant perks doled out, thousands of useless posts created, along with various committees and organizations, served two purposes: First, they gave the party a strong grip on the state; second, they ensured lucrative earnings for an army of party functionaries. Before it can go about reinventing the state, ND first has to scrap this PASOK system. We have said in the past that an audit of PASOK’s arrangement was a necessary precondition for a corruption-free and meritocratic administration. It was also necessary if the government wanted to curb snowballing demands for political favors by conservative voters. Unfortunately, few conservative ministers bothered to undertake such an audit. But failure to fulfill a central electoral pledge has raised suspicions that they actually intend to retain the old system – only this time to run it themselves. Doing so, however, carries two consequences: First, it gives the impression of a government unable to uproot a distasteful system that squanders state funds; second, it perpetuates expectations among conservative voters who want to replicate PASOK’s cozy arrangement. The PM must not let this happen.