Simitis's Unsuccessful Struggle for Economic and Governmental Modernisation: A Case of Irresolution or Impotence?
Close, David Henry
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Modernisation, meaning the attainment of best governmental practice in the European Union, was the mission of Kostas Simitis while prime minister in 1996–2004. In the goals which mattered most to himself and to voters — improving governmental efficiency so as to promote economic development and citizens’ welfare — his record was disappointing. Various international measures of Greece’s governmental and economic efficiency, and assessments of citizens’ satisfaction and government finances, indicate regression rather than progress. The basic cause of failure is argued to be the prevalence of traditional clientelist attitudes, which made the state very influential over society and the economy, while condemning it to inefficiency. Government influence over the economy and labour force burdened them with restrictive practices. Yet few if any members of the major political parties accepted the full implications of modernisation. While meriting some blame, Simitis failed mainly because of factors beyond his control.