Ministers first, party cadres second

Government officials are basically ministers for all citizens, irrespective of their political affiliations. And these cadres will be cooperating with all local authority officials elected on Sunday. So public functionaries and ministers alike are obliged to brief all candidate mayors and prefects on issues that they will have to tackle, if elected. In view of the above, it is rather surprising that Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis failed to act as a Cabinet member but played his old role of party secretary, accusing other party cadres of «inappropriate contact» with electoral candidates from other parties. Every minister is obliged to brief local authority candidates whose responsibilities will be interlinked with their own sphere of competence. But, unfortunately, the legislative framework regarding the relationship between the state and local governance is still exceptionally fuzzy. Particularly in Attica, the management of many things – from roads to parks – is carried out by the Public Works Ministry and the local authorities. So, to ensure the smooth operation of Athens and Piraeus, Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias should actively strive to meet with local authority candidates of all political persuasions, not avoid them. Meimarakis’s criticism is therefore unwarranted. Ministers are primarily state functionaries and secondarily party cadres. No one expects ruling New Democracy’s offices to be open to cadres from other parties, but the government ministers’ offices should be.