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Disappointed and angry are the Greek municipalities from the Kalikratis law

26 May 2010 / 11:05:26  GRReporter
3572 reads

Victoria Mindova


Wild reactions caused the voting of the new law Kalikratis of the socialist government, which radically changes the picture of Greek Municipalities and Regions in the country. In the last day of the debate, hours before the voting on the new draft for the local government disgruntled citizens from different municipalities gathered to protest in the center of Athens in front of the Ministry of Interior. They rebel against the new municipal regulations under which many of the currently established regional centers will be deleted, merged or shifted to other neighboring municipalities. The main purpose of the law Kalikratis is to optimize the financial administrative structure of local communities, and the funds saved from the regional reforms are expected to exceed 1.2 billion euro only for 2011. What is called into question by the Greek public is to what extend are observed the criteria and objectivity in the selection of new regional centers.

Similar are the problems also of the people of Amfiklias mayoralty. In their case it comes to changes made in the last minute. "Today we went out to protest against the adoption of the law Kalikrati because in the case of our municipality the Greek government does not meet the criteria it has established for the creation of a municipal center," said the former mayor of Amfiklias and current city councilor Lucas Klavunos for GRReporter. He explained that in the initial plan of the government the city was chosen for regional center in which were supposed to be included two more municipalities. Days before the voting of the bill the city was removed from the list of regional centers and was replaced by a smaller town in the neighboring municipality. After a consultation with the Committee of the Ministry of Interior, an explanation for the change was not provided. The citizens of the municipality affected believe that there was an informal intervention at a political level, which predetermined the fate of their city.

This is not the first case in which dissatisfied citizens "hint" for political interference and corruption practices in the process of redrawing the municipal map of the country. Some of the residents of the town of Katseli on the island of Crete also attended the protest against the introduction of the law Kalikrati. Their case was even more tortuous than the cases of the other protesters. To the small island city was given the opportunity to choose to join one of two given larger municipalities selected by the Ministry of Interior. Days after adopting the decision, the opportunity to choose was withdrawn and the city of Katseli was moved to another scheme. "Why does the Government talk about public dialogue and transparency when this is not applied," asks a protesting citizen. In an informal conversation citizens of Crete say that regrouping of municipalities is directly related to expectations of future investment in certain areas. According to the protesting political parties with more power can and do interfere in the decisions resulting from public dialogue and decide the fates of whole communities for subjective reasons.

With drums, whistles and slogans "Recognize the victim from the martyr municipality - Komenou" protested citizens from the small town in the Thessaly region. After voting on Kalikrati the city will lose the right to decide on issues of local government. The small town will be administratively absorbed by the neighboring municipality and it will not have the right to vote in the municipal council. "The new system Kalikratis takes our possibility  to make decisions on our own about the way of management and promotion of our town, which has its historical place in the development of the Greek state," says the chairman of the protest group from Komenou part of the Arda municipality. He explained that the fights in Komenou during World War II are a historical fact, which converts the small village into a cultural and historical monument of the modern Greek state. The Chairman explained that only the title of "historical center" is not sufficient to help the city to develop and attract investments and tourism. According to him a more specific framework lacks within which local government will be able to build a medium-term economic growth plan.

Restructuring of Greek municipalities is done to maximize the efficiency and reduce the costs in the structure of local government. The problem that arises in the process of reform is that many of the small regions in Greece will be left directly dependent on rulers, who are members of other municipalities. Thus, a priority in funding will become bigger cities in a given area, and the governors of the small municipalities are worried that their regions would be extremely disadvantaged.

Tags: PoliticsSocietyNews
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