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School of Social Sciences

Reform of Greece’s core executive structures

Weak leadership and management within the structure of Greece’s core executive has been a contributing factor to the country’s politico-economic crisis. Our research identified key and pressing elements of reform.

Greek Parliament
The Greek Prime Minister has strong constitutional powers, but few resources at his disposal of to ensure effective oversight and coordination between individual ministers.

Our research revealed numerous deficiencies within the Greek core executive, leading to evidence and recommendations that steered legislation for major reforms of the Greek government’s executive structures.

Professor Dimitris Papadimitriou and Professor Kevin Featherstone (London School of Economics) have worked closely with key political actors to develop major structural reforms to the Greek executive.

Chronology of events

  • October 2008 – April 2011: Papadimitriou and Featherstone interviewed a comprehensive range of ministers and all surviving Greek Prime Ministers in order to collect data on the management of the Greek core executive since 1974.
  • April 2009: Prof Papadimitriou submitted a blueprint for reform, promoting a stronger Office of the Prime Minister and a larger, permanent General Secretariat of the Government to coordinate government business.
  • March 2010: Greek PM, George Papandreou, established a five-member international advisory team on reforming the Greek core executive, with Prof Featherstone as its Head.
  • January 2011: Based on the recommendations of the international advisory team, the Greek Parliament passed ‘Presidential Decree 2’ to create a General Secretariat to the Prime Minister.
  • January 2012: OECD published its ‘Review on the Central Administration in Greece’, making a number of references to Papadimitriou and Featherstone’s research.
  • March 2012: The strengthening of resources at the Greek core executive became a formal condition of the second Greek bailout agreement. The EU Task Force for Greece acknowledged the contribution of Papadimitriou and Featherstone in highlighting this problem.
  • January 2013: Greek parliament passed ‘Law 4109’ on the creation of a new General Secretariat for the Coordination of the Government, answerable directly to the Prime Minister. The Secretariat is staffed by 63 permanent civil servants, headed by a Secretary General appointed on a five-year term.

The ideas put forward by Featherstone and Papadimitriou are clearly reflected in the outlook of this new institution.

Our research

Profs Papadimitriou and Featherstone carried out in-depth interviews with past and present members of government and the core executive. They also analysed over 300 legislative acts and other primary sources to construct a picture of Greek administration over the past 40 years.

Key findings

  • The Greek Prime Minister has strong constitutional powers, but few resources at his disposal of to ensure effective oversight and coordination between individual ministers;
  • Weak institutionalisation at the heart of the Greek core executive, alongside a weak capacity for reform;
  • There exists prime ministerial isolation in the Greek policy cycle;
  • Greece’s current predicament is not simply the result of economic mismanagement, rather it is rooted in entrenched public policy weaknesses.

Key people