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12 December, 2018
 
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Knock it down and rebuild it from scratch

Greece needs to be redesigned from scratch

Alexis Papachelas

Alexis Papachelas

Greece needs to be redesigned from scratch. The state, its laws, its justice system – they all need to be rebuilt. History – unfortunately – requires such revolutionary changes after great tragedies and misadventures. 

Constantinos Karamanlis had such an opportunity after the restoration of democracy in Greece.

Conditions at the time were mature, as the old political system had collapsed along with the dictatorship and monarchy. He made some changes, but not enough.

He seems to have believed in a system inspired by former French president Charles de Gaulle that would be based on a strong presidency with a president elected by the people.

Over regulation and the overlapping responsibilities between ministries, agencies, municipalities and regional offices have created a nerveless monster that constantly gets its tentacles in a tangle

He realized that only with a powerful executive president could things that were considered impossible be done, while at the same time ensuring the much-needed political stability. Nobody in France or the United States would dream of talking about elections the day after the elections.

Karamanlis did not impose the French system because his advisers convinced him that Greece was a country with a center-left majority which would not be likely to elect a center-right president.

These, however, are opportunities that belong to the past. Now all political leaders would agree – if you locked them in a room without microphones and cameras – that Greek democracy is neither functional nor effective.

Overregulation and the overlapping responsibilities between ministries, agencies, municipalities and regional offices have created a nerveless monster that constantly gets its tentacles in a tangle.

Sometimes it “kills” citizens. In many respects the justice system also urgently needs modernization.

Some of the things that need to be done concern the Constitution, making its revision imperative if we want to be rid of the dead weight that is pulling the country down.

But who will agree on what, and on what basis, as we enter what is already the most toxic and polarized election period of the last 20 years? What bright and generally acceptable minds can draw up a plan that will draw universal support?

We all hoped that our bankruptcy, which was also a bankruptcy of institutions, would make us wiser and that we would make sure we rebuilt the foundations of our rotten “home.”

We did not, and it seems it will be difficult to do so in the next critical three to four years. Perhaps we will have to wait until the next misadventure before we wake up from the lethargy of cynicism and inertia.

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