OPINION

A few good men

No reasonable person would deny that this country needs fewer career politicians and more respected professionals from other sectors to fill posts in parliament and government offices. I often hear deputies express admiration for former Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis for calling all Kasos residents by their first name or never failing to attend the private occasions of his constituents. Undoubtedly, Pavlidis has remarkable stamina, confirming the old saying that all politics is local and personal. That said, it is obvious, or at least it should be, that when Pavlidis, or any Pavlidis, is called upon to administer and manage public funds, he will do so with his own people, his own mechanism and his own personal style. Being a good statesman is one thing, being a good minister is quite another. Politics is a tough sport. It’s quite amazing how distinguished professionals change once they enter parliament. Take the example of Giorgos Alogoskoufis, once an eminent professor with good connections. When some economist friends pointed out to him the major shortcomings of the government’s revenue collection mechanism, he replied, «I am no longer an economist; I am a politician.» His fatal mistake was that he treated economic policy as a tool for crafting his own political career. However, the premier had selected him because he was a good economist, not because he came across as a more cosmopolitan version of Pavlidis. Experience has shown that capable professionals are no match for the closed club of career politicians. Panayiotis Hinofotis, an admiral in the Hellenic Navy, had an outstanding diplomatic and military career. He quietly did his job as deputy minister for public order and in the end paid the price for the December riots for which he bore no real responsibility. Our political leaders must reject «colorful» politicians and instead prefer successful professionals. Otherwise, any serious bid to overcome the current deadlocks will come up against obstacles like Pavlidis.