Syriza vs corruption: tracing its stance since 2010

I bumped into a very interesting Greek article today, published in the webzine Epikairo, that gives a good indication of Syriza’s former meddling with anti-corruption and tax evasion legislation. While the angle of those writing the article is clearly one of a devoted center-left voter (I would assume PASOK or DIM.AR.), the article itself is quite interesting for people from all ideological presuppositions. It traces 6 of the draft bills that were voted in the Greek parliament since 2010, which pertain to anti-corruption and combatting tax evasion. As it seems, Syriza has been continuously undermining all efforts to combat these issues when legislation was proposed by other parties, either by voting “present,” or simply “no” to those bills.

Today, Syriza seems committed to hit hard on tax-evasion, corruption, oligarchs, and the cartels. In fact, the proclamations of Yanis Varoufakis and Alexis Tsipras suggest that Syriza will invest heavily in anti-corruption policies, both during the interim 4-month extension of the existing program, but also afterwards. They both also seem to believe that they can amass great amounts of money out of such measures, and quite quickly for that matter. Up until its rise to power, however, Syriza had not craze about anti-corruption. One could say that Syriza did not want to help the parties of the establishment to pass ‘half-hearted’ legislation, especially given the fact that there were specific provisions in favor of the status-quo sneaked in many of these laws. One could also argue that the previous stance of Syriza should not be taken heavily into account, since now that it is in the government it will have the leverage (apart from the will!) to draft meaningful legislation and implement much-needed policies contra the aforementioned pathologies.

To a large extent, I agree: how Syriza operated in the past should not be seen as a determinant of how it will function in the future. Nevertheless, it is indicative of the larger anti-reformist stance of the party, a continuous intransigence not to cooperate with the remaining parties of the “status-quo” (well, that was before it became part of it), and its dependence in its clientelistic linkages with public sector workers and specific interest groups. (These clientelistic linkages, of course, were created by the two former big parties of the status-quo – PASOK and thereupon New Democracy. Nevertheless, Syriza increasingly joined the game since the beginning of the crisis, taking advantage of the dissatisfaction of the clientelistic state with the status-quo, and taking over the reigns from the two other parties.)

In any case, you can find the Greek version of the article here. Right below, you can find my translation of it. (Bear in mind: it was written in early January, before the Greek Elections had happened.)

 

The reformist hypocrisy of SYRIZA… (Epikairo.gr, 12 January 2015)

Excerpt from an interview given by John Milios to the Deutsche Welle, as it is reproduced by the website iefimerida: “Syriza is the «principal reformist party». According to Mr. Milios, «the rethinking of the taxation system, combatting tax fraud, smuggling of goods, transparency in the public sector, speeding up the procedures, and a more conducive environment for investments are all parts of our direct goals.» This statement by Milios motivated us to investigate the parliamentary stance of SYRIZA in legislation passed during the years 2009-2011 in terms of combatting corruption, and our findings, we dare to say, were extremely interesting. More specifically: 

  1. Law 3849/2010 (A’ 80), which brought out changes in Law 3212/2003 for the declaration of sources of wealth, such as individualized inspections, increases in threatening punishments, etc., but also provisions in the Criminal Code that have to do with crimes against the Agency: mandatory confiscation of products derived from all corrupt acts in the public sector, broadening the scope of the crime of disloyalty to the public sector.

In this draft law, SYRIZA voted PRESENT.

  1. Law 3932/2011 (A’ 49). This law, which is part of the ongoing effort to reorganize the monitoring mechanisms, shielding of the financial sector and the improvement of the fiscal credibility of the country. At its heart lies the creation of an independent and improved «Authority for Combatting Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism, and the Monitoring of Statements of [one’s] Financial Condition» in order to effectively combat three particularly harmful types of criminal behavior: (a) money laundering, (b) unlawful enrichment, and (c) the financing of terrorism. The application of the above law is absolutely crucial as shown by all highly publicized cases lately, since in almost all of these cases both the initial clear up, as well as finding the path traversed by black money and the freezing of assets by the State, would be made possible without the activation of the provisions of the law by the Independent Authority.

In this draft law, SYRIZA voted NO.

  1. Law 3961/2011. «Amendment of Law 3126/2003 for the criminal responsibility of Ministers & other provisions» (A’97), through which the margins allowed by the current Constitution to investigate effectively the possible criminal charges of governmental official in cases of public interest were exhausted: for the first time, restrictive conditions towards persecuted former Ministers were put in place, as well as provision for freezing their assets, and the regulations that had to do with the statute of limitations on crimes committed by Ministers were aligned with the regulations of the Common Penal Law (something that could not have happened for the limitation periods that is expressly provided in the Constitution for the prosecution).

In this draft law, SYRIZA voted PRESENT.

  1. Law 3841/2010. «The selection of magistrates in the top positions of Justice and the restoration of the self-administration of the courts» (A’ 55). The purpose of this law is to ensure the unshackling of the judiciary from the influence of the executive branch, by changing the way in which the leadership of the Justice system is selected, and the restoration of self-governance in the large judicial formations of the country.

In this draft law, Syriza voted NO, wanting to continue the manipulation of justice as it has been established by Karamanlis.

  1. Law 3875/2010. «Ratification and implementation of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three Protocols thereto and related provisions» (A’ 158). The purpose of the law is to improve the institutional framework covering the prevention and combatting of organized crime and its related offenses, in fulfillment of our international obligations.

In this draft law, Syriza voted widely and broadly NO.

  1. 4022/2011 (FEK A 219/3-10-11). «Trial of corrupt practices of Political and State Officials, of matters of great social interest and major Public Interest, and other provisions». This law establishes specific procedures for the swift and effective investigation and adjudication of felonies that are either committed by politicians and other state officials, either excite great social interest, or have to do with the greater Public Good in a major way. Through the law, the interrogation is given to experienced magistrates, who deal exclusively with this task, assisted by a sufficient number of secretaries and experts, having the power, on the one hand, to request information and assistance of any kind from any public authority, and on the other hand, to carry out extensive investigative acts that bind all personal property, or waive any confidentiality against the people under investigation. Both the investigation, as well as the determination of the hearing date in all levels should happen in absolute priority and within expressed deadlines. The new settings contribute to the detecting and final decision of cases that have long plagued the country in due course, both for reasons of transparency and accountability, and in order to restore the sense of justice to the people.

In this draft law, too, Syriza voted PRESENT.

In these exact 6 legislation bills that were enacted towards the direction of combatting corruption, Syriza voted either PRESENT or NO, contradicting solemnly Milios’s claim. Why did Syriza not vote in favor of all those interventions? Was it because the pro-Memorandum government of George Papandreou pushed them? Was any of the above legislations part of the memorandum obligations of the country, or even directed by some TROIKA or a Memorandum?

Of course not. But Syriza preferred to throw rocks when in opposition, and to refuse even the tiniest institutional progress. Now, Milios, at the lobby of authority, tells us that Syriza will combat corruption. How, by sending Papandreou to the Special Court, as announced today by candidate MP Stathis Panagoulis (see his interview here).

On the one side you have Samaras saying that all reforms were made in the period 2012-2014, and on the other side you have Syriza who appropriates anti-reformism because it does not suit him.

No more with the hypocrisy from both sides.

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