During the last ten years Greek politicians have always promised to fight corruption during election periods. However, after coming to power the results were meagre.
In 2005 Konstantinos Karamanlis did not follow through on his campaign promises. In 2009 George Papandreou’s commitments produced a good law that required the publication of all government decisions and budgets on the Internet for more transparency, but the efforts were ad hoc and his tenure was short.
In 2012 Antonis Samaras accepted most recommendations from Transparency International Greece, the Commission Task Force for Greece (TFGR) and the Council of Europe, and established a National Coordinator to implement a road map to fight corruption, but his main priority was the economic situation and he paid little attention to ensure effectiveness of the new anti-corruption organisation.
Two important laws were passed, but the one to protect whistleblowers was incomplete. The second to bring transparency to political party financing was passed last November because of external pressure. As a result we have doubts about its implementation.
SYRIZA, the winner of last Sunday’s election, made a lot of promises to fight corruption during the campaign. They include improving the effectiveness of democratic institutions, fighting tax evasion by becoming more aggressive with those who have hidden their money abroad, eliminating the influence of “oligarchs” and reducing their dealings with the state, and establishing a single organization with enough powers to fight corruption and more.
All of this is music to our ears as long as these commitments remain strong and unwavering.
As soon as the government is formed we will contact the relevant authorities to ensure that their promises do not remain empty words. Furthermore, we want the new government to act on these priority issues:
- Support a “no impunity for the corrupt” campaign as part of their anti-corruption program
- Make major improvements in the law protecting the whistleblowers. The improved law is critical to the effectiveness of our Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre where we help people fight corruption in their daily lives.
- Improve the law on asset declarations, in particular we see a need to make the audit committee totally independent
- Change the audit committee established to oversee the law on political party financing so that is also totally independent and has resources and teeth to push implementation
- Work with the Ministry of Justice to implement rapidly measures to improve the speed of rendering justice by the judiciary.
The new government seems more committed to address corruption than past ones. However, the key prerequisite will be to strike an agreement with the European Union and the IMF regarding the measures necessary to achieve competitiveness and improve the country’s ability to confront the urgent financial priorities.
If this is not achieved, Greece will be facing more problems and the transparency agenda will not receive the appropriate priority attention it sorely needs.