This article was published by Al Jazeera International.
The election of Greece’s reformist prime minister could mark a change in political culture after decades of overspending and a decade of austerity
When Kyriakos Mitsotakis assumed his first cabinet post in 2012, Greeks broadly agreed that he’d been seated before the poisoned chalice. Under the terms of a freshly signed, €130bn emergency loan from the Eurozone, the conservatives had to dismiss up to 25,000 state workers over two years and bring down the cost of government. It was Mitsotakis’ job to get it done.
Over two years, he dismissed more than 5,000 people, including the entire municipal police force and two thirds of the state television payroll – something no Greek government had done in living memory.
He also introduced evaluation. “Impunity in the state is over,” he told parliament in March 2014. “We will pull skeletons out of closets and we will send people home who’ve provably engaged in illegal practices.”
Asked about it on state television during his 2016 election campaign for the party leadership, Mitsotakis said, “The dismissals were a difficult political decision and I shouldered it myself without much support, but it was a government commitment. I don’t appreciate ex post facto criticism.”