Reconquering the state

When New Democracy came to power in 2004, it did so on the back of two slogans: the first was a moral one, embodied in Costas Karamanlis’s call for «modesty and humility.» Not unsurprisingly, his call fell on deaf ears and the slogan was not repeated in the September campaign. The promise was sweet-sounding but soon proved powerless next to the longstanding and more environment-friendly, as it were, patron-client relations. The second mantra had more political overtones. The so-called re-establishment of the state carried the promise of a state apparatus that will not be held hostage to the ruling party, that will respect transparency and meritocracy, that will slash red tape, improve coordination of its different sectors and respect the independent authorities which are after all protected by the Constitution. But it soon became clear that ND actually meant reconquering the state. And if they were somewhat restrained during the first tenure, the second smacks increasingly of PASOK’s much-criticized establishment mentality. Like their Socialist predecessors, they too seem to have forgotten that political power comes and goes. Freeing up the hands of the re-establishers has meant chopping those of the independent authorities. The administration of the Personal Information Protection Authority was forced to resign after it was mocked by the security forces and the justice minister. ASEP, the Supreme Council for Personnel Selection, also came under fire. Its annual report charges that recruitments are based on criteria determined by ministers and government officials. Meanwhile, ND deputy Natassa Ragiou urged the administration to take care of «our own boys» because «they are the only ones who suffer injustice.»