The ‘favors tax’

The way the preliminary probe into the Siemens case was carried out and eventually closed, has left us with something of a bitter taste in our mouths. There is a widespread feeling that revealing the truth of the case was never the number one priority; few Greeks will argue that this is not a cover-up. In this context, the entire way the issue was handled undermines justice and negates any efforts to purge the political system. Judges, naturally, are not obliged to heed public opinion, but it becomes a real problem when their actions are so diametrically opposite to the demands of citizens for transparency. The stance of the justice system has made it easy for the government to use the scandal in petty political squabbles. The one camp never misses a chance to bring up Tsoukatos’s admission, while the other goes on about the Liapis-Christoforakos trip. The need for proof is understandable, but the controversial trip is really insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Either way, only shameless hypocrites could argue that graft is exclusive to PASOK rather than a chronic ailment of the country’s political establishment. Both big parties, along with some smaller ones, are systematically funded by big business, as are most current and former ministers. This is the illegal, yet morally accepted «favors tax.» Most of this money, moreover, rarely ends up in the party’s coffers. It gets lost along the way, making wealthier those party officials who make it their business to collect it. The only way to rid the system of this problem is if it is admitted publicly and dealt with on an institutional level. Otherwise, we will be witness to yet another boring game of ping-pong between the country’s biggest parties, all of which want the case closed as fast as possible. Once the scandal has been expended by overexposure on television, things will get back to normal and it will be business as usual.