Correcting the ills

The fundamental pre-election pledge made by the conservative party was to rebuild the state – or to eradicate corruption, reform public administration and change the bad attitudes cultivated by the Socialists’ prolonged stay in power. This multifaceted promise prompted the electorate to vote PASOK out of power. If the government fails to make good on this promise or, worse, if it gives people the impression that it was all a show aimed at redistributing the spoils of power, then it will lose the support of that critical mass of supporters who helped it climb to power. The government gave a very poor excuse about delaying its public utilities (DEKO) reform, which was set to be completed by April 30, blaming it on the inconclusive negotiations between the industrialists’ union (SEV) and the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE). But these weren’t the real reasons. First, several ministers keep on treating DEKOs under their competence as their fiefs, thus obstructing the implementation of reforms – a task officially assigned to the Economy and Finance Ministry. Secondly, public utility administrations have gradually identified themselves as aligned with the vested interests of the existing regime. That explains why most DEKO administrations have failed to update their regulations but also why they have not entered a dialogue with workers on the 2006 incomes policy (which provides for benefit cuts and hirings on individual contracts). DEKO’s efforts to introduce free market criteria in public utilities have been confined to the lavish salaries of their senior executives. Public utility administrators who don’t follow government orders should be removed. The so-called PASOK system was based on toleration and compromise, but then it, too, became a part of the corrupt mechanism.