Two aspects of corruption

The general public has become deeply suspicious of the institutions and agencies that are essential to public life, and events show those feeling to be absolutely justified. Revelations about members of the judiciary have deepened the conviction that the courts are corrupt too, thus shaking confidence in the bulwark of justice. Meanwhile, though private television channels lead the field in unmasking the judiciary, they spread so much scandal and reek so strongly of entangled interests themselves that the public has lost all faith in them as well. And there is no sign that Greeks trust any other mechanism to point out wrongdoing and support transparency. On the justice front, which is the most serious, the extent of the calamity is apparent from the fact that not just a few but 50 judges are under investigation. And as if that number wasn’t large enough, the network of corruption is believed to be far more extensive. Only yesterday Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras referred to «contraband justice,» while former Synaspismos Left Coalition president and leading criminologist Nikos Constantopoulos spoke sharply on Skai radio about «organized crime in the field of justice,» entanglement with the economy and politics, and unsuitable judges. One would like to think that such views are exaggerated. Yet the Greek public seems to share them, which is why they express doubt as to whether the attempt to clean up the system will proceed. The public also scorns television news programs which have supposedly launched a campaign to uncover scandal in the justice system. In a poll conducted for Skai by VPRC, 71 percent of those questioned stated that they do not trust television, while 50 percent were in favor of censorship. Justice and television are not the same thing, of course, but they are institutions that the public associates with presenting the truth. Yet it seems Greeks no longer see them like that. They see the judiciary as being too corrupt to be the guardian of justice, and television as too trashy to serve transparency. Since there is every indication that this double censure is justified, Greece is facing a worrying level of corruption. The institutional quality of the system is sinking, led by the very mechanisms that should be trying to save it.