A cavalier approach to legislative reform

When US President Lyndon B. Johnson was still a senator, he voted down a piece of legislation which, under ideal circumstances, could have reaped many positive results for his country. The reason he gave for his negative vote was the following: «You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.» Unfortunately, in Greece we do neither of these two things. And the chief reason for this is that those holding the reins of power make decisions hastily, without the necessary consideration and study and without the dialogue needed to establish what the likely consequences of their decisions would be. PASOK Deputy – and former culture minister – Evangelos Venizelos is the perfect example of someone who drafts policy off the cuff. But we should not forget that various controversial laws – such as those of the basic shareholder, the incompatibility of parliamentarians to also practice a profession, and that which created the wage tribunal – were all approved by a large majority (from all parties). Does anyone remember how we arrived at the legislative revision of 2000 when it was decided that active parliamentarians should not be allowed to concurrently practice a profession, such as law or medicine due to a potential conflict of interest? Certain reports about MPs who had been working as lawyers alongside their political pursuits had provoked widespread public reaction. Subsequently, politicians from both major parties spotted an opportunity to ride this wave, and we ended up with a constitutional provision that everyone wanted to amend from the very moment it was implemented. Something similar is happening now with this week’s decision to establish a so-called «constitutional court.» Having been shocked by a piece of news – regarding an outrageous increase that judges awarded to themselves via the wage tribunal – we have now decided to revise the entire constitutional order. After all, the new constitutional court which is to replace the wage tribunal will not only be dealing with the wages of judges. The move will effectively take the power out of the hands of the country’s judges and give it to the already-swollen state. It is clear that the constitutional court being discussed would bring with it many ills even should the law be implemented properly.

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