Competence above all

The debate about the new electoral law is not about improving Greece’s governance. The government is seeking ways to strengthen the winning party so that is can rule without problem. The opposition is asking for a more representative system but PASOK does not have any real objections to the conservative proposal. If the past is any guide, a strong one-party government provides stability that is crucial for the economy and society at large. But a strong government is not necessarily better for the country. Greece has seen strong governments that advanced economic growth and social justice. But it has also seen strong governments that plunged the economy into debt. Ideally, we should have a government with many seats in Parliament but also with competent ministers who can solve longstanding problems, modernize the economy and promote social justice. How can this ideal combination come about? Before we answer this question we should note the explosive discrepancy between the political system on the one hand, and the socioeconomic reality on the other. The private sector has undergone a sweeping transformation to catch up with global developments. Standing astride the robust private sector is an obsolete political system made up of people that have no grasp of entrepreneurship, originality or management. Take a look at the MPs: lawyers, doctors, professors, unionists. Their common characteristic is that they have never held a financial or management post. All they offer are the usual left-wing nostrums and grandstanding sound bites. Competent individuals refuse to engage in politics because they fear they will have to tailor their views to the party establishment. We should follow the Cyprus example, where deputies are not ministers and thus are not afraid of the political cost, or introduce some system whereby people can engage in politics without having to worship the party.