Greece is famous for its love of the theater. It has recently been confirmed by Mr. Loverdos’, Minister of Health and Social protection, theatrical statements about civil servants.
Conveniently forgetting that Greek governments, from the beginning of the Greek state, have been guilty of creating the civil service on a political clientele basis. Becoming a civil servant meant that one could provide the ruling party with so many votes. It did not mean that he had to work hard and efficiently, on the contrary, civil servants hardly worked.
This is testified in the popular ’60s movies in many instances. A young village girl is assured that she has an excellent dowry because her father “owns” 900 votes (aptly named “Maria’s 900”, echoing Leonidas’ 300). Thanassis Vengos argues disarmingly with the honest politician who denies to appoint as civil servant a known felon: “if he was not a felon he would not need you”. At that innocent and naive time the Greek people who love satire laughed good-naturedly at their politicians.
Today, when the situation of the average greek family resembles a tragedy, one is reminded of Portia’s words to Bassanio in the Merchant of Venice:
I see, sir, you are liberal in offers
You taught me first to beg; and now methinks
You teach me how a beggar should be answer’d
The present government has been ruling Greece for more than 25 years and has been guilty of the bribery and corruption practices of the previous ones. If they mean what they say they would be well advised to apologise, accept their own mistakes and try to start on a clean slate. The only problem then would be to convince us, the Greek citizens, of Mr. Papandreou’s and his government’s sincerity. Now, we cannot help but doubt their intentions as well as their policies.