A different Karamanlis

The political and economic analysts who have been monitoring government policy after the September 16 elections agree that it is now a different Costas Karamanlis who heads the government. The prime minister now seems more determined, stricter and more experienced and appears to have a greater willingness to interfere in his ministers’ work. Although the government’s agenda has more or less remained the same, the style has certainly changed. It’s bolder and more realistic. The lax approach and procrastination is no more. Sure, Karamanlis sacked ministers and picked new ones almost overnight. But changing the government’s makeup is his constitutional right. More indicative is the way he has gone about things, the way he has cooperated with advisers and monitors his ministers. Previously, the premier would basically work with a core of four or five senior ministers who were expected to coordinate themselves with the rest. However, over the past week all ministers and their deputies visited the government headquarters. Policy-making and approvals are now up to the PM. Secondly, Karamanlis has built a more cohesive government. The economy policy-making group, for instance, is more homogeneous. The cooperation among Giorgos Alogoskoufis, Christos Folias and Costis Hatzidakis is smoother. Thirdly, the monitoring of deadlines is closer. And, finally, Karamanlis is responsible for the staffing of key departments, banks and organizations. Nevertheless, he should go a step further and make use of skilled people who do not necessarily come from the ranks of the ruling party. It’s said that this new style was born of the August wildfire crisis when Karamanlis realized the weaknesses of his government and the crumbling state.

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