From the encyclopedia:  Local Government: a) administration without dependence, b) institution that organises the administration of a region by representatives of local communities or a section of a special public organisation without substantial involvement of the state.In the old days, in the era of the dominance of the “katharevousa”,[1] when there was a complete mismatch between a name and its meanings in practice, the expression “κατεὐφημισμόν” was used. This is how local government works in practice, i.e., in complete dependence on the goals of the state administration and with the aim of promoting those matters which it does not wish or does not have the ability to implement. In addition to promoting the persons it wishes to appoint to leading positions in local government institutions, the central government also controls the rates of grants through which the powers delegated to local government can be promoted to a minimum extent. In short, in our everyday language, local government is the step child (= child of inferior status who helps with the chores) of the state administration. Nevertheless, this institutional expression has a comparative advantage: it is in close proximity to the citizens and thus the possibilities of monitoring the events unfolding with, and by, the actions of its representatives, as well as to some extent the possibilities of intervention, are easier. The reflection that preceded is a prelude to a basic review οf the local government period that will end with next October’s elections, which will highlight the people who will play a leading role in the next five-year local government period. We will record our observations below.

Contributing to the inefficiency of the institution of local government is the total absence of any relevant reference to the country’s Constitution. If such a reference existed, it could mitigate the complete fluidity regarding the main characteristics of the institution. Each state government can decide, through its own legislation, on the number of elected officials, on the duration of the municipal government periods, on the electoral system, on the powers of their unilateral and collective bodies, but also on the bulk of their financial resources, which come from the state budget and are distributed through grants. As an extension of this, the government at the time decided that the 2019 local government elections would be held under a proportional representation electoral system even though the general political climate was extremely conflicting, the ambitions of the leaders in the local government groups were unrestrained and, consequently, decision-making by the collective bodies was highly problematic. Some corrective legislative interventions by the next government, but mainly the holding of meetings of the collective bodies by teleconferencing, balanced to a certain extent the chaos that had been created. The newest legislation, through which the municipal elections of next October will be held, brought back the pre-existing electoral system, which strengthened the majority combination and provided it with an enhanced majority in the collective bodies, but it also eliminated one of the few positive provisions of the previous electoral system: the election of members of the Municipal Communities with separate ballots and their mandatory financial support from the municipal budget for the execution of small maintenance projects of the local infrastructure. The abolition of this arrangement fully confirms the aforementioned trend towards full control of local government by the central administration.

In our region, Mani, the strong negative effects of the electoral system of the simple proportional representation were also felt and created dissonance. In the municipality of Western Mani in particular, the mayor had to cooperate with two minority municipal groups in order for the institution to function properly. Two favourable circumstances, as the “deus ex machina” of the ancient Greek tragedies, balanced to a certain extent the inability to produce work, even the maintenance of critical municipal infrastructure, by the local governments of our region. We are referring to: a) the assignment of the Ministry of Interior to our compatriot politician who, due to the need to restore public infrastructure from the wildfires of 2020 and 2021 in Laconia, financed Eastern Mani with large sums of money and b) the election of our compatriot to the position of Regional Governor who, when he was given the legal opportunity, tried to counteract the permanent marginalisation of Mani in the financing of public infrastructure projects. A great opportunity for qualitative and quantitative upgrading of the territorial area of Mani, through the EU-funded program “Integrated Spatial Investments” was underutilised. Delayed or even faulty drafting of technical studies for necessary public projects, underfunding of private investments in the tourism sector, emphasis on one-time cultural actions, or in some cases with directed beneficiaries, minimise the footprint on the Mani area of this significant amount of funding which, unfortunately, is not repeatable.

It seems that in our region the lessons of the past are reflected when they collide with personal ambitions. These lessons, which have arisen from objective and subjective reasons (small population, great distance from decision-making centres, individualistic views of things, reduced willingness of social contribution, etc.), for the rational thinkers, lead to self-evident tendencies towards universal cooperation, which is the only way to produce improved results. It seems, in the first ten days of August, as this text is being written, that instead of joint activities in view of the October municipal elections, a more intense division will emerge. It seems that there is a complete ignorance of the risk of even greater degradation of the area even though the external economic conditions, due to the quality of the geographic and climatic environment, are favourable…


[1] archaic official language used by the Greek state until 1976 when it was replaced by “dimotiki” (everyday colloquial language)