Prime Ministers in Greece: The Paradox of Power

Author (Person) ,
Publication Date September 2015
ISBN 9780198717171
Content Type

This book is concerned with a large question in one small, but highly problematic case: how can prime ministers establish control and coordination across their government? The Greek system of government sustains a ‘paradox of power’ at its very core. The Constitution provides the Prime Minister with extensive and often unchecked powers. Yet, the operational structures, processes, and resources around the Prime Minister undermine their power to manage the government. Through a study of all the main premierships between 1974 and 2009, the book argues that the Greek Prime Minister has been ‘an emperor without clothes’. The costs of this paradox have included the inability to achieve key policy objectives under successive governments and a fragmented system of governance that provided the backdrop to Greece’s economic meltdown in 2010. Building on an unprecedented range of interviews and archival material, the book sets out to explore how this paradox has been sustained, engaging with a wide conceptual literature—from historical institutionalism; organizational culture and leadership theory; administrative cultures and traditions; and political sociology—to identify these constraints on reform capacity and political will for change. The book concludes with the Greek system meeting its ‘nemesis’: the arrival of the close supervision of its government by the ‘Troika’—the representatives of Greece’s creditors. The debt crisis challenged taboos and forced a self-reflection. It remains unclear, however, whether either the external strategy or the domestic response is likely to be sufficient to make the Greek system of governance ‘fit for purpose.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Politicians, Patronage, and the Bureaucratic Tradition
Chapter 2 The Leadership Factor
Chapter 3 Primus Solus
Chapter 4 At the Centre of a Galaxy
Chapter 5 Institutionalization and Micro-Management
Chapter 6 Innovation Circumscribed
Chapter 7 In the Shadows of Uncertainty
Chapter 8 ‘Plus ça Change…’
Chapter 9 Governing in Context

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