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April 9, 2012

The non-amendable phenomenon of regulatory amendments

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Written by: pdcadmin

By Panagiotis Karkatsoulis

Politis wanted to post the names of those ministers who recently tried to amend legislation agreed to by the Greek government in exchange for the next tranche of aid from the Troika. When we could not find what we wanted online, we approached internationally renowned expert Panagiotis Karkatsoulis, who responded as follows.

A key negative feature of Greek legislative production, which has repeatedly been pointed out, is the extremely high number of very specific ad hoc regulations. The Greek peculiarity in such regulations is that they regulate a specific issue that can be traced back to one individual person or interest group. These regulations can be identified in particular in laws that bear the title “…. and other provisions.” The addition of such provisions, which in their majority are opposed to the general character and applicability a law ought to have, is a long-lasting and ongoing habit of Greek MPs, as the following data prove for 30 years of regulatory production1:

Year Percentage of regulations that declare in their title that they also include “…other provisions”

1975 15% 1990 47%
1976 15% 1991 33%
1977 23% 1992 20%
1978 22% 1993 32%
1979 22% 1994 23%
1980 29% 1995 36%
1981 25% 1996 20%
1982 18% 1997 21%
1983 30% 1998 23%
1984 31% 1999 30%
1985 32% 2000 14%
1986 23% 2001 27%
1987 20% 2002 24%
1988 34% 2003 28%
1989 47% 2004 27%
2005 19%

The reason for their incorporation in the laws is purely political and reflects one of the key attributes of the Greek political system: its corporatist structure. For at least fifty years it has been indicated that the incorporation of such provisions into the “patchwork legislation” not only creates a problem of understanding the law, but it also undermines the democratic polity, as it cancels every notion of equality before the law and promotes favoritism. The legislature has shown itself over time to be deaf towards these points, however.

Even today, where the economy, institutions, and social cohesion of the country are under duress, the representatives of our parliamentary polity attack the last vestiges of confidence and esteem that society attaches to their role. Through their self-destructive and shameless behavior, most of them show once again that the problem of the country is located in those in whom the people have placed their hope.

Perhaps the decisive reaction of the current Prime Minister and of the media, which prevented the addition two weeks ago of amendments to laws which the Greek has pledged to the Troika to pass, allows for some optimism, showing simultaneously the difficult path needed to overcome the crisis: Only the vigilance and interaction of citizens who believe in democracy can lead to a new era where an amendment will truly ameliorate a law.

National School of Public Administration
www.inerp.gr

1. Source: Panagiotis Karkatsoulis, Regulation, deregulation, reform (in Greek), Athens: Sideris Editions, 2011.






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