OPINION

Pre-election spending

Were we all not used to a discredited political system and, most of all, to the idea that every attempt to improve it is futile or hypocritical, then the incident that took place in Parliament last week would have triggered fierce reactions among party leaders and the public. In a nearly unanimous decision, the eight deputies who attended the session (292 were absent) removed fines amounting to 2.4 billion drachmas that had been imposed on candidates and parties for exceeding the permissible pre-election threshold of expenditures.. . The same happened with wrongdoers in the 1996 elections, as all fines were later removed with a cross-party unanimity and on the same grounds. This means that legislation which sets a ceiling on electoral spending by parties and candidates, in order to preserve equality and, primarily, to prevent corruption, is incomplete, while monitoring is non-existent. The existing legislation, of course, was not put into force by some public assembly. It was voted in by Parliament. If it is now incomplete and unchecked, how can one justify the fact that it has remained intact for two parliamentary terms? One can easily draw the conclusion that this fundamental law, which is so essential for political reform, was passed for formality’s sake and that parties and deputies have no intention of following the rules or limitations on their spending.