OPINION

Rebuilding the state

There is no longer any doubt that calls to rebuilt the public sector only make sense if they aim at creating the kind of state the country needs. Talk over the years about hearkening back to the past does not mean much, since a smaller and cheaper state would not necessarily mean a better one. What we need is improved state services and a new organizing principle based on our political and social perception of what a Greek state should look like. Successive generations of counterproductive administrations have discredited the state by recruiting their political cronies. This patron-client relationship has had the result of reducing the state to an extension of the ruling party apparatus. As a result, it has grown into an oversized bureaucratic machine with an outdated structure and inefficient staff coming from the ranks of party supporters. The smaller number of competent workers have been blocked from being productive. Worn and discredited in the eyes of most people, the state tends to impede the momentum for national and sectoral growth. And all that when times call for swift administrative reforms in order to overcome the national shortcomings that are taking a hefty toll on the economy. Rebuilding the public sector, in the way the PM has promised, is no easy task. New Democracy must brave the political cost, for the public administration has already suffered enough damage. PASOK’s socialist-turned-reformist ideas about the state distorted its raison d’ etre. Without a sweeping change in the public administration (which does not seem to worry all the conservative cadres), there is little the Karamanlis administration could actually succeed in its bid to empower the country’s productive base.