Democ­racy or Idioc­racy?

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

In Cyprus, we live in a democ­racy char­ac­terised by gov­ern­ment by the peo­ple and/or their elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives: con­sti­tu­tional guar­an­tees, free and fair elec­tions, a par­lia­ment of elected mem­bers, sep­a­ra­tion of leg­is­la­ture and the ex­ec­u­tive, an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary, and so on. Nev­er­the­less, nei­ther the func­tion­al­ity of its demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions nor the qual­ity of their var­i­ous out­puts is do­ing well. been se­curely fas­tened, the pre­vi­ously drown­ing man of Cyprus be­gan to lam­bast his saviours for dar­ing to ex­er­cise con­trol over the proper and com­pe­tent use of the life­line!

This grudg­ing re­luc­tance to ac­cept the re­al­ity of the bailout has not eased. The bailout pro­gramme is re­quir­ing the whole­sale re­form of the Cyprus econ­omy, its gov­er­nance, its in­fra­struc­ture, its civil ser­vice, its pub­lic sec­tor, its banks – and more­over in all of th­ese, not just their struc­tures and pro­cesses but also their cul­ture. As Po­lis Polyviou al­luded to in his of­fi­cial re­port on the Mari-Vas­si­likos dis­as­ter on July 2011, there had been a re­lent­less pur­suit of vested self­in­ter­ests by cyn­i­cal politi­cians and of­fi­cials cou­pled with their in­com­pe­tence, empty rhetoric and ‘a re­duced per­cep­tion of duty and se­lec­tive ob­ser­vance of moral­ity and le­gal­ity’. So it was too with the long build-up to the fi­nan­cial col­lapse but with the added com­po­nents of the banks and ma­jor bor­row­ers such as prop­erty de­vel­op­ers. 2014 bailout tranche of more than EUR 400 mln. Un­de­terred, the Deputies con­tinue their de­fi­ance de­spite the next bailout tranche now in doubt and the prospect of the gov­ern­ment be­ing un­able to pay wages and bills in Novem­ber. Another gov­ern­ment de­fault looms and, yes, the in­ter­na­tional mar­kets have re­sponded badly as ex­pected.

Why are the gov­ern­ment, the par­ties and the Deputies pur­su­ing ve­he­mently a lu­natic prin­ci­ple of le­galised waivers for debt de­fault­ers that is in­de­fen­si­ble and will also en­sure that the banks re­main se­verely hand­i­capped in their postcri­sis re­cov­ery? Ap­par­ently, to them pop­ulist vote-re­ten­tion is far more im­por­tant than the coun­try’s fi­nan­cial sur­vival. Far bet­ter to pan­der to a brain­washed pop­u­lace and get their votes than to do the right thing, how­ever un­pop­u­lar. Party, job and reck­less con­sen­sus trump na­tional in­ter­est and moral in­tegrity.

I would com­mend to read­ers the 2006 satir­i­cal film Idioc­racy, star­ring Luke Wilson, as it epit­o­mises the level to which demo­cratic gov­er­nance in Cyprus has sunk.

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