Political pastime

Once PASOK – for whatever reason – decided to leave the show, the constitutional revision was dead. It’s pure arithmetic. Even if New Democracy was to win a comfortable victory in the next elections, it would not be able to muster the 180 MP votes it needs. That is, unless PASOK makes a post-election U-turn. But in any case, the revision was mostly a public relations exercise. The fact alone that a fresh revision was announced before the expiration of the five-year immunity review period is evidence of an immature political system. And that is regardless of whether the new revision has been called to correct the blatant errors of the previous one, which, of course, was green-lighted by the current conservative government. It’s not just the controversial main-shareholder clause. It’s also the law banning MPs from having second jobs. Despite the fuss, the so-called incompatibility rule was imposed by both mainstream parties five years ago. It was meant as a display of determination toward fighting corruption but it only showed the ease with which Greek politics moves between extremes. Without doubt, allowing MPs to hold second jobs can in some cases create conditions of unfair competition. The problem is that the ban effectively discourages renowned figures from entering the political domain. At the same time, it undercuts MPs’ political autonomy – as their desire for re-election makes them dependent on their party leader as well as on the powerful business and media tycoons. The main problem with the constitutional review is not the changes per se. It is, rather, that the penchant for regular reviews demonstrates the difficulty – if not the incompetence – of our political system to tackle crucial problems through normal procedure.