OPINION

The scales of justice

Judges’ decisions must be respected by everyone. At the same time, however, there must be consensus regarding the extent to which judges are affected by the country’s broader political and social climate. Judges are in turmoil. The state has imposed severe cuts on their salaries without taking action to tackle chronic structural problems. A section of the judiciary naturally wants to take revenge, as it were. How could this happen? With decisions on anti-constitutional provisions that derive from the memorandum or specific company actions on the basis of the new labor framework. Judges must weigh, on the one hand, the legal arguments and the overall fiscal condition and, on the other, the assumption that «justice is the citizens’ last safe haven.» The next few months will show which way the scales will tilt. But this could really have an impact if judges decide to halt the implementation of the memorandum. That would, of course, create a huge political issue. The government must respect the independence of the judiciary and at the same time guarantee the flow of aid on the basis of the memorandum. Another crucial issue concerns decisions on whether to prosecute. The last 10 years have seen a significant attempt to make a chunk of the broader public sector work according to private sector criteria. Unions saw this as a threat to their perks and began to file lawsuits. Now some of them are turning into prosecutions. The question is: How can a prosecutor or a judge rule that an act has damaged the interest of the state? Can they, for example, rule that the price of a takeover or a direct assignment is too high if it’s alright with the market? And in any case, when there is no evidence of kickbacks or orders from above, how can a conviction be upheld? Sure, over the past few years Greece has become synonymous with waste and corruption. But if the price is paid by those who made the mistake of accepting a job in the state sector instead of those who disguised themselves behind offshore companies, the consequences will be grave. For, in this case, talk about golden boys will attract the unemployed and crooks and no one will ever again dare sign a decision concerning state property.