Inflating the reshuffle

One wonders why the local press pays so much attention to changes in ministries, dedicating their headlines to the subject for weeks and even months on end. Indeed why should voters share the anxiety, joy or disappointment of the ministerial hopefuls? Have any of New Democracy’s ministers spawned public outrage and calls for their replacement? Not quite. Nor, for that matter, have any ministers been successful enough for people to demand that they keep their jobs. The reshuffle is an internal government affair. Officials come and go on the basis of their performance, the level of cooperation with their counterparts, and the fulfillment of the prime minister’s orders. Government policy does not change. In fact, reshuffles are made to improve the implementation of that very policy. So what is the reason behind the media obsession with the looming reshuffle? Unfortunately, it all boils down to Greece’s political culture. It’s as if we are still in the mind-set of the old newspaper hawkers who used to do their rounds shouting out: «Names of the new ministers.» We still have to shed the habit of associating ministerial appointments with handouts to specific electoral constituencies and the recruitment of political friends to the civil service. We still view ministers as feudal barons who rule their fiefs without paying heed to official government policy. Finally, we fear that the changeovers will rock the boat as outgoing or passed-over cadres express their anger or disappointment. By inflating the significance of the impending shake-up, the media feeds the belief that the ministries are the property of the ministers, who only let go at the end of their government tenure, and that the premier has no right to judge the performance of his ministers or to try out other cadres.

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