The fight within

In the dull world of Greek politics, April came with a challenge. The conservative administration must blow away the cloud of scandals and corruption that hangs over the public sector. The pension funds scandal offers an opportunity to clean up public life. Or so the optimists maintain. Corruption, of course, is not unique to Greece. But the number of scandals dogging the country is unusually high. During the past 50 years, virtually no politician has been spared of corruption allegations. This however discredits the political system in the eyes of the average voter, who is generally of the opinion that all governments are corrupt by default. Sure, it’s naive to assert that scandals like these can doom the country or even the political system. Such verbal fatalism is no longer plausible to anyone. Nor are there any moral forces to shape up the system. However, for practical reasons the government – in fact any government – should crack down on corrupt officials just as it would do if they had been appointed by its political rivals. According to reports, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis plans to take harsh measures against conservative officials found guilty of corruption. Such a move would break the circle of political and business entanglement that often transcends party lines. Few things have been as harmful as the idea that corrupt officials are to be found only among the ranks of the rival party. In fact, nothing has encouraged corruption more than the belief that the government will ultimately have to cover up a scandal in order to avoid criticism from the opposition. If corruption is to be successfully countered, Karamanlis and George Papandreou, the leader of the Socialist opposition, will have to start by tackling the scourge within their own camp. If they fail to do so, the entire anti-graft drive will fail.

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