Kicking the habit

It is a key prime-ministerial responsibility to keep an eye on ministers’ performance and to coordinate their activities in a way that best promotes the government’s work. Accordingly, PM Costas Karamanlis has a clear picture of the contribution of the different conservative figures under his leadership. However, in private talks with his close aides he admits that coordination among the different ministries leaves much to be desired. Karamanlis has so far turned a deaf ear to calls by various advisers urging him to entrust the job of governmental coordination to some senior official; instead, he has opted to carry the burden himself. Now the premier has decided to step up his efforts, given that his performance so far has failed to yield the desired results. However, intensified efforts by the premier will scarcely help improve communication among government officials so long as some of them continue to display the old syndromes of political immaturity, narrow self-interest and endless squabbling that have plagued the New Democracy party for years. Some of the old-style conservatives have clearly failed to grasp that the nature and magnitude of the problems that the New Democracy government inherited from its Socialist predecessor after the March 2004 elections allows no room for similar attitudes. Gone are the days when these politicians could be tolerated as merely colorful, as opposed to substantive, characters. Unless the prime minister keeps a tighter rein on such politicians, who prevent the government from making progress, then perhaps it would be useful to bet on a carefully planned reshuffle.