It is good to see cooperation between successive governments, but that applies to those that have received a vote of confidence.
We did not see what the voluminous blue folder that New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis handed over to the caretaker prime minister, Ioannis Sarmas, contained. It seemed too heavy to only include next month’s milestones. We do know that the president, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, will represent Greece at the summit of the European Political Community (EPC) in Moldova next Thursday.
The folder was similar to the ones that Mitsotakis had distributed to his newly appointed cabinet four years ago, which would have been used to evaluate the ministers’ performance. The results of those evaluations remain unknown. Maybe Sarmas saw them and that’s why he didn’t keep any of those ministers.
According to the outgoing premier, the folder contained the “summary presentation of the functions and the achieved results of the government, the unified government policy plan for 2023, an important note with the country’s international obligations, but also its critical operational milestones in the next quarter, as well as the annual action plans of the ministries.” Mitsotakis clearly meant it when he told Alpha TV that he is not taking his electoral victory on the May 21 elections for granted and that “the next elections [most likely on June 25] are crucial” (Alpha, 24-05-2023). He probably wants to win Sarmas’ vote as well.
There is, however, a small problem. We all know that Mitsotakis will most likely be the next prime minister but, officially, nobody really knows the result of an election until all the votes have been counted and announced. Maybe the priorities of SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and PASOK chief Nikos Androulakis are different to those outlined by Mitsotakis in that folder. They are certainly different from the ones of the current prime minister, who said that “this government will be a caretaker government. It will, of course, have all the powers, but only the powers to implement the law, until the one who emerges from the popular will returns here to Maximos Mansion.”
It seems the so-called executive state (the idea of a central administrative system introduced by Mitsotakis) may offer continuity even in times of elections, as Mitsotakis has said, but democracy does not. Never mind the fact that Sarmas is a prime minister and not a government minister who can be assigned “critical operational milestones.”
Let’s agree that the unconstitutional faux pas committed here is small and we don’t know whether the decision to pass on that blue folder will benefit the ruling conservatives. It is good to see cooperation between successive governments, but that applies to those that have received a vote of confidence. In a parliamentary democracy, only Parliament legitimizes plans and milestones of the executive branch.
Again, this is a very small faux pas, but it underlines something we wrote when the great institutional “evil” (the wiretapping scandal) broke: the indifference toward the checks and balances of democracy, as outlined by political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt in their book “How Democracy Dies: What History Reveals About Our Future.”
Published in eKathimerini.com 27.5.2023