DO WE NEED A CHANGE IN GOVERNANCE?

“Governance” is the established manner in which authority wields power. In the public domain, the manner of governance affects all sectors, and defines practices which start from the top of the hierarchy pyramid and reach all lower levels. This applies not only to the ministries and their services, but also to all public entities, all state enterprises and their counterparties and contractors. The way of governance, which has been practised in the last 40 years in our country, is the main reason for the inefficiency of our state. This happens because the concept of healthy competition is entirely absent in the production and procurement of tangible and intangible assets! The result of this type of governance is enormous cost, which is very difficult to balance in a sound manner. The authorities have tried to deal with financial discrepancies through borrowing, however, excessive borrowing always leads to over-indebtedness. The Greek way of governance of the last few decades has created many unfufilled needs, even basic ones, while modernisation and keeping up with the development in other countries remains an impossible, poorly pursued dream.

It is certain that the root of the problem of inefficient governance goes back to the years of the Turkish occupation. At that time, the state was an autocratic ruler, resulting in great insecurity for the subjugated Greeks. Small-scale governances on the part of the subjugated people (family, local-societal, religious governance) were aimed at personal gain and security, and only very rarely at the common good. These practices of narrow advantage for individuals or small groups only were transferred to the governance at all levels of the modern Greek state and they continue to exist today… The correct way of governance, the pursuit of the common good, was first applied by Ioannis Capodistrias, our first Governor. Many citizens benefitted from the sound governance of this great leader, however, this style of management was discontinued after his death. The special interest powerful groups, who had every reason to return to the pre-Capodistrian style of governance, were overjoyed. Due to the financial difficulties of the last few years, more and more Greeks have now reached the conclusion that this selfish manner of governance is the main cause for the toppling of financial balances at both levels, state and personal.

Consolidated mentalities change at very slow rates, however, as Greek citizens continue to reflect on the economic crisis and the negativities associated with this selfish manner of governance, there is optimism that maybe this style of administration can drastically change. A different style of governance, one that aims for the common good, will increase productivity and bring healthy competition among contractors for the procurement of goods, services and public works. The gains will be so great, that they will warrant a drastic change in the current mentality.

   In democracies there is a correlation between the mentality of the electorate and the elected politicians. It seems that citizens’ mentality is slowly changing and it will influence the next election. Consolidation of the new mentality could become the main push for the modernisation and the economic development of our country. For a certain period, the old and new mentality will coexist in conflict with each other. Whether the new common good mentality prevails or not, will depend on our politicians during this transitional period. If these politicians have strong administrative capacities and a sound modernisation vision, then the rate of change will be rapid, and positive resuslts will soon be observed. Otherwise, we will see once more what we have already witnessed so many times in the past: after a period of crisis, the long-standing mentality of governance will return and will lead the country and its citizens to a new path of destruction.

The general observations of the manner of governance described in the paragraphs above also apply to administration at the municipal level, and of course to our area, Mani. At the municipal level, however, it is much easier for citizens to observe the negative results caused by the old selfish mentality of governance, because citizens have a direct overview of the local government’s actions and results. Of course, there have been a few exceptions at the local level, with positive results and modernisation initiatives, but much more needs to be done. The need for drastic change in the manner of governance is particularly pressing in Mani, a region with limited financial resources, but also with great growth potential.

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