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Greece: Towards a New Administrative Solidarity, Part 1

This article is the first of a two-part posting. Watch for Part 2 to be posted this Thursday, January 26th.

Panagiotis Karkatsoulis

The future of the Greek state seems, at first glance, mortgaged; a series of problems justifies this ominous prediction. The most important, in order of priority:

A) The many years of resistance to the reform of the State, including the period of the Economic Adjustment Programme. The failure to adapt to international and national rapid developments in the economy, technology and current risks, places the Greek state in the chorus of states with high operating costs, low efficiency and significant corruption.

B) The pseudo-reforms (i.e., the reforms that were announced but never implemented) due to clientelistic strategies and the promotion of vested interests. As a result of the “fake” reforms, the credibility of the Greek political system was undermined, on a European and international level, and the already severely weakened trust of the public employees towards their political leaders was withdrawn.

C) The inability of the European Institutions to understand the nature of the problems and propose viable solutions. Recipes of a “unique best way” nature or easy, hasty adaptations of the “one size fits all” logic are not an option, and the large aggregations (e.g. the South, countries with high vulnerability etc.) possess no analytical value for the policy makers.

D) The ongoing attempt of the major political parties and certain Greek media to derive benefits from the public sector’s collapse. They manipulate the public opinion distorting the issue of the “redundant employees”. As a result, reforms are out of focus and there is no discourse or analysis on this crucial and urgent question.

E) Reformers are limited, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Many remarkable people in the public sector, belonging to different disciplines, have faith in the reformative capacity of the public sector, but they don’t amount to a critical mass. Furthermore, they constantly stumble to difficulties when trying to establish a common language and therefore they are usually limited to an unproductive criticism of the failures encountered. On the other hand, the prevalence of certain political ideologies inside the public sector in the near past enhances this difficulty of establishing communication channels among reformers.

Recently chosen as the 2012 recipient of the
International Public Administration Award from the American Society for
Public Administration (ASPA), Karkatsoulis, along with several distinguished Greek and American colleagues, will present a panel titled “Is
Reorganization of the State the Answer to the Greek Crisis?” on Sunday,
March 4 at 10:45am during the Society’s National Conference in Las Vegas. For more information or to register visit the
ASPA National Conference website.

This article is the first of a two-part posting. Watch for Part 2 to be posted this Thursday, January 26th. To read other articles on the crisis in Greece, see the Related Articles box below. To comment on this, or any other, article become a registered reader by clicking the Register link in the upper right hand corner of any page.

Panagiotis Karkatsoulis is with the National School of Public Administration as well as the Ministry of Administrative Reform and E-Government in Greece. Email: [email protected]

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