OPINION

Resigned government?

The dismissal of 36 government appointees over graft allegations during New Democracy’s 21 months in power is not evidence of corruption inside the administration, but of its determination to eradicate it. The governments of Costas Simitis, during which corruption took on unnerving proportions, never took issue with officials suspected or charged with corruption but rather chose to grant them amnesty. PASOK’s sleaze-ridden politicians now project themselves as champions of transparent governance. But to the dismay of some ND officials, the above argument is a defensive one. In fact, the ruling party must ask itself why so many officials failed to live up the conservative campaign of purging the domestic political system of corruption. Most of the 36 resignations or sackings were the result of picking the wrong person for the job, so the responsibility lies with the government, or minister. Hence, voters are led to believe that the appointments were not made on meritocratic but rather on personal or partisan criteria. We have in the past referred to the class of would-be state officials who join a mainstream party as a way to climb to the top. Most of these people have not been tested in the private sector but still eye a good post in the public sector, blaming their lack of success so far on political «persecution.» Accordingly, they expect to reap the rewards when their party rides to power. Not all government appointees are like that, of course. Many have sacrificed their professional careers to serve the government for purely ideological or political motives. But they are too weak to impose the government line on the hundreds of opportunists who see their posts as trophies. The sackings are less a sign of determination and more an indication of the government’s inability to carry out its pledges.