OPINION

Political decisions

According to unconfirmed sources, the prime minister is determined to announce Health Minister Alekos Papadopoulos’s dismissal when he returns from China without first meeting with him. Some officials have used the press in order to try to influence Costas Simitis’s stance. We await Simitis’s decisions and actions. But it would be an unprecedented and absurd decision if he finally chooses to fire Papadopoulos for announcing his decision not to run in the next parliamentary elections. Premiers have always been frustrated by the intense pressure of officials who want to put their name on deputy candidate lists and who do not hesitate to use both legitimate and illegitimate means in order to achieve their aims. Since when has the voluntary exemption of oneself from this procedure been seen as a reprehensible act? Moreover, every prime minister would be glad to have ministers who are both willing and capable of efficient work and simultaneously free from the ties of personal political cost that are imposed by the need for re-election. It is no coincidence that premiers are sometimes forced to take on technocrats, who are not members of Parliament, especially when they must promote important reforms in crucial sectors which impinge upon the interests of powerful groups. An experienced political cadre, with a long and successful career as minister, who is willing to continue his work in a challenging ministry in order to carry out an extremely needed and – to many – unpopular reform would be seen as a divine gift by any other government. PASOK, however, often behaves in an absurd fashion and for many months its government has shown itself to be anything but rational in its decisions and actions. The issue will not just reflect Simitis’s judgment. The premier has been called upon to make one of those decisions which reveals the true personality of political men and shows whether they have the ability, the courage, and the ethos to raise themselves above the interests of the «power professionals» who were shaken by the health minister’s decision and want to see him out of government. Should the prime minister succumb to the pressure, he will prove himself to be not just small-minded, but a petty politician.