No one can deny that New Democracy is a forward-looking party. So what if the prospect of elections draws nearer. All the executive directors of the civil service that were selected using objective criteria are now being stripped of their positions to make way for party favourites with the signature of one person: the minister of administrative reform.
An army of party-affiliated senior supervisors is being methodically prepared at all the key posts of public administration. This army will remain in key positions even if the coalition becomes the opposition.
But let’s takes everything from the start.
Last summer,Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis submitted another reform law to parliament concerning the selection of executives in the civil service.
The law describes, in great detail, fancy procedures regarding skill assessment tests and the role of the special council for the selection of senior supervisors, which has no meaning as it refers to the distant future.
The gist of the matter is found in the transitional rules that establish the following innovation: using the pretext that there is a need to change organograms, all senior supervisors that had been selected using objective criteria would be replaced by new ones with a decision by the minister.
And that’s what happened.
A total of 13 senior supervisors that had been selected in 2010 under the Ragousis law – enacted by the then Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis, which, even though never fully enforced, remains the most objective system for hirings in the civil service, at least until now – were stripped of their positions and replaced by others, who were selected by the boss….
Among them was a general director who, even though fulfilled all the position’s requirement, was denounced by the minister as a ‘bunker’ because she was absent for one year on sick leave without spending one day in hospital.
The same model will be implemented by the end of the month in other ministries as well.
Those appointed, will take over the duties of evaluators. They will have the absolute authority of evaluation without enjoying any meritocratic legitimacy other than the favour of the minister.
8.500 employees have already been dismissed and another 6.500 are next.
With the necessary modifications, the government is enforcing the same policy it used for ERT (National broadcaster).
It abolished ERT accusing it of a lack of transparency and statism (true up to a point as government interventions were indeed frequent but they were met with the resistance of employee strikes) in order to set up a party-run shop. With great fanfare, it voted through the foundation law for NERIT that foresaw a monitoring council to safeguard its independence. But then it went on to amend it overnight, stipulating that the council will be appointed by the government majority.
The Samaras-Venizelos government, after accosting civil servants as incompetent and untrustworthy, is now citing the need for reform to set up a clientele state from scratch recalling the events at Klathmononos Square in years past [where workers would cry in the central Athens square after being sacked when a new government was sworn in].
If Syriza becomes the government, it will be faced with two equally problematic choices: either risk its policies being blocked by hostile supervisors in the ministries or to also conduct a party cleanup and appoint its own people thus contributing to the vicious circle of the party-controlled state.
In order for this not to happen, the institutional framework to fortify the meritocracy of the civil service must be ready for immediate implementation. Its preparation does not only concern the experts at Koumoundourou [Syriza party headquarters) but also the employees and experts in public administration