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The Emperor has no clothes! Greece and the ‘hollow’ core executive

Dimitris Papadimitriou
University of Manchester
Kevin Featherstone
The London School of Economics & Political Science
Dimitris Papadimitriou
University of Manchester
Open Panel

Abstract

In recent years much debate has centred on Greece’s ‘reform capacity’, a theme that has acquired a new sense of topicality following the country’s financial rescue by the EU/ECB/IMF in 2010.While a growing body of literature has addressed various aspects of public policy failure in Greece, the organisation, management and operation of the Greek core executive has escaped systematic scholarly attention. Building on an extensive range of elite interviews (including with all surviving Greek PMs), the present paper seeks to evaluate, in comparative terms, the outlook of the Greek core executive since the country’s return to democracy in 1974. At the heart of the paper’s puzzle lays the fact that - despite a strongly Prime-ministerial system - the resources available to the Greek PM for managing the government are extremely thin. Building on a conceptual framework nested in New Institutionalism, the paper addresses this discrepancy by reference to the policy legacies of the early transition years, the management style of individual PMs and the dominant political culture (shaped by the operation of ‘closed’ networks bound by trust) within which they operated.