OPINION

The premier and his aides

In the year 1513, Niccolo Machiavelli wrote in «The Prince» that a prince’s choice of ministers reflects his intelligence or lack thereof. If they are good and loyal, he will be seen as wise. If they are unethical or incompetent, then he will be open to criticism and will end up paying the price. Costas Karamanlis is not liable for any of the political costs that have been heaped upon him during his almost four years in power, as none of the failings have been due to his own shortcomings. This is why he consistently comes out ahead of the opposition party leader in the polls about who is the most capable person to run the country. Yet who hasn’t wondered how it is possible for such an irreproachable and capable prime minister to have made such a disastrous choice of ministers? Why he didn’t go through their personal and public lives with a fine-tooth comb before handing them their portfolios? Why hadn’t he taken measure of their skills? So what should Karamanlis have done? Gone around like Hercule Poirot to Vassilis Magginas’s villa in Koropi and snooped around to find out whether the Indian man staying there was insured or whether he had a proper building permit? Of course not. That investigation should have been carried out by his aides, but such an inner circle does not exist as far as we can tell. This is why we see one gaffe after another. This is why some of those selected as ministers have had to resign just months later. We must also add that any minister who bends to the pressure of the media or the opposition, or even to a conspiracy of interests, is a serious liability to the government and results in the inevitable withdrawal of policy. I wish Fani Palli-Petralia the best of luck, though I am sure that the scope of her reforms will not be as great as that planned by Karamanlis with Magginas.