ND punishes wrongdoers

The dismissal on Saturday of the government-appointed head of the Workers’ Housing Organization (OEK), Angelos Economopoulos, has caused a great deal of frustration inside the conservative administration. This latest blow signaled the failure of yet another state organization to smoothly function within the context set by the prime minister. If the circulating rumors and press reports prove to be accurate, Economopoulos’s removal will confirm that cancer cells still exist inside the state apparatus. PASOK is trying to portray the 36th (or 37th, depending on the count) removal or resignation of government appointees in the 21 months New Democracy has been in power as evidence of corruption. Despite the fact that the extent and pervasiveness of corruption during the administrations of Costas Simitis were the main reasons behind the Socialists’ electoral debacle, PASOK takes pride, as it were, in the fact that almost none of its cadres were actually sacked on ethical grounds. But this only proves that graft was not an issue for the Socialist party. Although many of PASOK’s ministers had a dubious record, none ever felt the need, nor was actually forced, to step down. Even today, many former Socialist ministers feel free to display their wealth, even if is barely justified by their incomes. Costas Karamanlis’s repeated pledges of zero tolerance on corruption signal a break with PASOK’s practice of nourishing such ill phenomena. Unlike the years of Socialist governance, serious doubts about cadres’ integrity come with a price: dismissal. The real scandal would be to keep a corrupt official in his post – as PASOK would have it. To be sure, it would be better if such cadres were completely absent from the government. But once they are revealed, the right thing to do is to remove them so that gradually the government can eradicate this ill mentality and, above all, the corrupt practices that have for years been cultivated by the PASOK administrations. The opposition should be encouraging the government to overcome any inhibitions or tardiness. New Democracy does not need extra roadblocks on the path to a transparent body politic.