Exit strategy needed

The troubled legacy of the PASOK governments, the rigidity of eurozone regulations, and the current conservative government’s travails all create the need for an exit strategy from the current deadlock. The government has responded by announcing plans to review the constitution and measures to reform the civil service. Both undertakings seem fairly straightforward, but their impact will not be immediate. Even if the coming constitutional revision manages to push through useful alterations, there would still be an opportunity to change the law all over again given the tendency for Greek politicians to treat the constitution as a treaty under constant review. There is also little doubt that governments will continue recruiting employees to the public sector with open-ended contracts, thus adding further strain on the state sector. The proposed changes are not bad on a public relations level. Yet some people, including in the media, are under the impression that the government is out to end the permanent status of state employees – a move which the worse off and advocates of a free market would advocate. Others more familiar with Greece’s political system rightly point out that the party faithful will now be recruited on better conditions, as they will be hired on open-ended contracts. This would give them nearly the same status as before, since any attempt to remove them would spark a furor in the media as well as the Parliament. In Greece’s political system, client-patron relations have always ruled and will continue to do so. As long as productivity and competitiveness continue to falter, the recruitment of party cronies will continue apace, for voters of both mainstream parties demand it. In an outburst of political overbidding, Evangelos Meimarakis suggested increasing the Parliament’s term to five years. We’re probably in for even more political absurdities.

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