In democracies, leaders are elected for a single term. The current term of office for area and regional government politicians ends in May 2016. During the next six months, the electorate can take stock of what the local politicians have achieved during their term of office and evaluate their performance. The electorate can review and assess whether these politicians successfully promoted and completed programs addressing the needs of their municipality or region. The review of the implemented programs should be the main criterion of whether or not the electorate will allow them to stay in office for another term. This is what is required in democratic governments and this is how citizens in democratic states evaluate their politicians. After careful evaluation, citizens should choose the right candidates. Those candidates who do not yet have experience in local governance should be judged by their commitment to democratic ideals, their conscientiousness and most of all, their diligence and efficacity during the previous stages of their life.
Citizens need to be lenient when evaluating the current politicians of small municipalities, because the financial crisis has resulted in major cuts in funding. It would be more fair to judge them principally on whether they were efficient in repairing the existing infrastucture, and on whether they successfully sought out development projects for their jurisdiction from the superior levels of government (Administrative Districts, Ministries, European institutions). They should also be judged on whether they contributed to the overall enhancement of the quality of life in their region and on whether citizens obtained appropriate service from the municipal public services.
Although the financial crisis also negatively affected the subsidies given to Administrative Districts (περιφέρειες), these politicians should not be judged with the same leniency, as the ones of the previous paragraph. Administrative District politicians have the power to manage themselves the funds of the regional programs, which are co-subsidised by the EU. This means that they can decide themselves which public works will be receiving the allotted regional funds, which are separate for each Administrative District. Since 2010, when the Administrative Districts absorbed several prefeture agencies, Administrative District politicians not only have the power to determine for themselves the feasibility of various financial/technical studies, but also to implement, carry out and supervise the corresponding projects themselves. The electorate should assess and evaluate the work of each Head of an Administrative District (περιφερειάρχης) and his/her task force, based on whether the drafting, contracting, implementing and completion of various projects were satisfactory and cost-efficient. This holds particularly true for the public investment projects necessary for the economic development of each region, since businessmen and investors need the necessary technical infrastructure before they can successfully invest in private projects.
Effective management of engineering or public works means:
- a) fair distribution of public works between the perfectures (περιφερειακές ενότητες or νομοί, as they were previously called) of each Administrative District and then fair distribution between the smaller municipalities, based on criteria such as geographical size, population, inhabited area and growth rate
- b) thorough financial and technical studies addressing real needs, invoices corresponding to the fair value of the engineering works, transparent conditions of bidding, contracting, carrying out and completing the work
- c) strict supervision and detailed evaluation of the finished work, without recapitulative statements and without setting out new prices for “extras”, additional works that were not foreseen in the initial contract
- d) detailed strict conditions for guaranteeing the good quality of the engineering of intended public works, with work thoroughly and regularly inspected during construction, but also thorough check after completion.
Unfortunately, the average citizen does not have access to the data regarding the total infrastructure projects that each Administrative District has proposed or completed. However, citizens instinctively have a fairly good idea of the work that has been put out by each district. They know if their needs will be met by the works that are under way, and they can roughly assess the quality and quantity of the proposed public works. This “instinctive” assessment and evaluation by the average citizen can become more accurate, if the electorate compares the pre-election promises with the work produced by each Administrative District during the current term, even in the absence of specific measurements. Those citizens who are tech savvy can check on the internet the site Διαύγεια (Transparency) of each Administrative District. To improve awareness among our readership, in the next few issues of our newspaper “MANIOT SOLIDARITY” we will be presenting data referring to pre-election promises and the uncomfortable reality regarding the progress of the undertaken public works in our area, Mani.