OPINION

A feeble plan for state management

We just don’t know what’s worse anymore – the fact that the government is trying to pretend that nothing has happened, or the public’s certainty that nothing will be done and that the Christos Zachopoulos affair is just another scandal that will be swept under the rug. Two suicide attempts, a doctored DVD, the government’s involvement and the debate about journalists and the sanctity of their sources comprise a sordid climate where we can no longer separate the truth from gossip. The result leaves too much room for the truth to be distorted. When the questions are many and answers few, people tend to fill in the blanks themselves. Everyone is sure that the scandal is being covered up, but no one really knows just what exactly it is all about. Is it about changing the classification of archaeological areas to allow construction? Is it about the management of Third Community Support Framework funds? Is it about hirings in the public sector or is it just a love affair that went sour and ended in blackmail? The most likely is that it is a mix of all three. For one thing, the classification of archaeological sites and the funding of cultural events are always controversial as they are not governed by specific criteria. Even if there were no underhanded deals made, the management of such power must have left a few shadows. The political issue at hand, therefore, is the management of mechanisms of power. Things would be greatly different if these controversial funding decisions were not in the hands of one person and if artists were represented by cultural bodies that were given a say. This would probably be a time-consuming process but it would also protect the government from any likely allegations of mismanagement. The same goes with the Supreme Council for Personnel Selection (ASEP). When the government was not involved in the selection process via interviews, there were fewer accusations of hirings made according to political affiliations. One thing that is certain is that the prime minister chose Zachopoulos as general secretary of the Culture Ministry and entrusted him with such weighty responsibilities because he believed him to be above board. Zachopoulos hails from Thessaloniki (which means that he is not deeply connected to the various social and business circles of the capital) and had little background in either politics or culture. In other words, he was the right clean guy to do the dirty job. The way things have turned out shows us just how feeble New Democracy’s plans for the government were; it was not enough to replace people who are «dirty» with people who are «clean» or the «immoral» with the «moral.» We have also seen that the problem does not lie in individual people but in the labyrinthine and vague state mechanism.