OP/ED: Is buck-passing the central policy of the Mitsotakis government?

OP/ED: Is buck-passing the central policy of the Mitsotakis government?

Just like another Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis apologized in Parliament for the actions of the Police.

He apologized not only for the period of his almost two-year rule but also on behalf of previous governments, emerging as he who absolves the sins of Greek politics.

His apology covered everything but the junta and the Greek Civil War. Of course, he forgot to include the 200 years since the Revolution of 1821 that led to the Greek Independence, just for a more up-to-date communication management. What would it cost him? Nothing. After all, it does not cost anything to simply orate without putting these words in practice.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who ascended to power in July 2019, immediately proceeded with his first political and institutional move, the establishment of the Executive State. Although advertised as the most ambitious and emblematic government reform for the functioning of the state apparatus, de-partisanship, meritocracy and the shrinkage of its size, it eventually turned into the law that transferred all powers and control under the Prime Minister’s Office and the Prime Minister himself.

To date, the functioning of the state has far but improved; partisanship has been strengthened, meritocracy has evaporated, and even in terms of numbers the public sector has not only not shrunk, but has rather augmented exponentially in many areas, such as transferable officials. In addition, he controls the majority of the media through funding and, on many occasions, the firing of journalists who are not to the government’s liking.

It would make sense for the Prime Minister, as the only exponent of the executive state policy, to be the main responsible and be held accountable for the government choices.

Instead, however, he almost always distances himself from any government failure and always emerges as a savior to correct the government failures and scandals that are revealed almost exclusively on social media. The phrase “by decision of the Prime Minister” is the most repeated.

Even in the many sermons of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, reference is always made in first person when talking about successes, while every text loaded with a negative connotation is written in plural first or third person.

It would make sense for his Ministers to protect their Prime Minister. Besides, he is the one who gave them their positions and they “owe” him. Yet protecting oneself from one’s Ministers shows one’s insecurity and -why not- the isolation they might feel.

What is striking, however, is that for an unspecified reason, the Cabinet’s failures have yet to cost the Ministers their position. In the two reshuffles that Mitsotakis made in less than a year and a half, he fired only two Ministers. Namely, Takis Theodorikakos from the Ministry of Interior, replacing him with Makis Voridis, known for his far-right past. The choice was purely political because Theodorikakos, coming from the Greek Communist Party (KKE) would not be manageable in political interventions in the event of elections. The other Minister who was fired was Giannis Vroutsis from the Labor MInistry, who was charged with a series of failures during his ministerial term, but was nonetheless compensated with the position of Parliamentary Representative of the party.

The Prime Minister’s reluctance to proceed with a brave reshuffle despite the numerous problems in the government was explained by journalists and analysts as Mitsotakis’ fear of clashing with the groups of former ND Prime Ministers, Kostas Karamanlis and Nikos Samaras, thus maintaining internal party balance and peace inside the Parliamentary Group.

Of course, two more parameters could be considered here.

First, that the failures of the Ministers could have been the result of the implementation of decisions ordered by the Prime Minister himself, which seems logical if one considers how the executive state works. A possible dismissal of a Minister, for reasons of incompetence or due to a scandal, would affect the Prime Minister himself, blaming him for the failure with all that entails.

The second parameter might be of strategic character. By not dismissing the Ministers who have provably made mistakes, failures or even scandals, the Prime Minister can very easily charge them at the end of the government term with any failure, leaving himself unscathed.

Whatever happens or what Kyriakos Mitsotakis is thinking remains to be seen in the next short period, when he will be called to face the problems, failures and reactions of the people for his political decisions./ibna