OPINION

Policy and public debate

Political analysts who portray Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras as a naive or opportunistic politician are wrong. It’s just that Polydoras realizes the key role of the police force at a local as well as international level. Hence, it should not surprise anyone that the public order minister backed the economic demands of police officers or that he threatened to quit should the government fail to meet the request. Meanwhile, the wage tribunal ruled that judges and court officials can raise their salaries by a considerable degree, and there’s nothing the government can do about it. It remains to be seen what the response of Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis’s will be to the request by armed force officials for a pay hike. That said, it’s worth pondering the stance of Education Minister Marietta Giannakou toward teachers’ calls for higher wages. Again, it would be naive to claim that Giannakou effectively served government policy, while Polydoras undermines it. The reason is that the term «government policy» means little more than a mix of general principles and intentions. Given the power of free-market principles these days, only a limited number of functions and activities have remained under the wings of the state. However, certain aspects, including national security, justice and foreign policy, could not possibly be surrendered to the private sector, at least not in a small country like Greece. The same cannot be said for education and public health which are gradually being passed into the hands of private companies, uncomfortable as the political establishment may feel. The paradox then was not that Polydoras backed the police officers’ demands but rather that he did so against the backdrop of a public debate on the issue. Otherwise, it would not be fair and democratic, as so often happens with other issues.