Political irresponsibility

Andreas Papandreou’s unforgettable phrase of the early 1980s «PASOK in government, people in power» seems to have been adopted by his son, the party’s current leader. In response to any attempt by the government to make changes in public administration, labor laws or the social security system, George Papandreou calls for «the agreement of all concerned» as a condition for his party’s approval. This standard PASOK tactic was raised a few days ago during the parliamentary debate over reform of public utilities and reiterated yesterday after Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas’s proposal for shops to open seven Sundays a year. The issue here is not these incidents but the idea of «agreement» as a condition for enacting government policy. Both major parties fought the last election promising major changes throughout the entire state sector. New Democracy announced the «refounding of the state» while George Papandreou vowed «ruptures, breaks and upheavals» if his party came to power. Obviously these were due to both parties’ realization that they would have to make major changes to what had become entrenched mentality for decades, arising from PASOK’s original proclamation of «a shared government» that led to an overinflated state, all-powerful vested-interest groups and outrageous privileges. «A shared government» was an excuse to empower a party nomenclature that played a major role in the growth of the clientist relationship between politician and citizen and a great waste of public money. Does Papandreou know many people who would agree to cuts to their inflated salaries or pensions or accept the abolition of their privileges in order to restore equality? No one, of course, believes the PASOK leader is so naive; that is why he is accused of something much worse – political cowardice, hypocrisy and irresponsibility.