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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Greek Election – Parliament closure may ease austerity

Reforms are the keys to Greece’s survival but Greek politicians are too scared of implementing them.  Most people in Greece welcome reforms carried out by foreign experts with the exception of the privileged groups of politicians and some public servants.

Does democracy work in Greece?  Greek parliamentarians are freely elected; therefore, the political system cannot be classified as undemocratic, but for the past 30 some years many dubious or contradictory laws have been passed in the Greek parliament.

If Greek citizens think that they have fulfilled their responsibilities by simply going to the polls, they have made a big mistake of not having supervised their parliament’s day–to-day operations and after years of un-scrutinization, democracy in this country is in complete failure.

A summary list of the Greek political salaries and perks exempt from austerity; minimum wage was agreed to be reduced by 22%, from €751.39 to €586.08

Greek MPs indeed cost taxpayers too much money

Double Pensions for employees of the parliament, and more…

Read the last paragraph of the above link:

“To write an article for the free edition Free Sunday the journalist sent a letter requesting information about the operating costs of the parliament, the cost of salaries and other costs of deputies, the number of the administrative employees and the costs for their salaries and about the deputies and employees salaries cutting last year. In response, they sent him from parliament three press releases from last year that respond only to the last question.

The Greek president (whom I respect) had asked to remove himself from the government’s payroll, but how about the rest of the Greek politicians?

There is also parliamentarian’s immunity from criminal charges.

Are there too many parliamentary seats in the Greek parliament?

Yes, I think there is a BIG problem of over representation on top of the problem of paying each parliamentarian’s fat salary and benefits.

The employed people in Greece have to feed these fat politicians, who have eaten up EU grants for developing this nation, no wonder many middle-class families are hit by yet another new income tax – a surtax based on GROSS income (i.e. income before any deductions, notice this is not surtax based on tax payable like in Canada), and this is on top of what we had paid for the property tax, and the emergency tax, and the rising value-added tax on consumer products, and still not enough to rescue the sovereign debt.

The following is a comparison of the ratio (population to the number of parliamentary seats) for some countries in and outside of the European Union, the population statistics are based on either estimated or census figures for the latest year of a general election (lower house) of a country (except Greece because I didn’t find the 2012 population figure).  

Greek population 2011 census 10,787,690 (and is reducing because people got fed up with the situations and are leaving the country)
Greek parliamentary seats 300, i.e. 1 seat per 35,959 persons

German population in 2009 was 82,002,356
Elected German parliamentary seats 622, i.e. 1 seat per 131,837 persons

France population in 2007 was 63,645,065
Elected National Assembly 577 seats, Senate indirectly elected 348 seats, a total of 925 seats, i.e. 1 seat per 68,805 persons

United Kingdom population in 2010 was 62,262,000
Elected members of the House of Commons 650, plus 788 appointed members of the House of Lords, total seats 1438 i.e. 1 seat per 95,788 persons based on elected members or 1 seat per 43,298 persons based on a combined upper and lower chambers (notice that this figure is still higher than Greece)

Italy population in 2008 was 59,619,290
Elected Chamber of Deputies 630 seats, plus Senate 322 seats (of which 315 were elected inside Italy, 6 representing abroad and 1 appointed), a total combined 952 seats, i.e. 1 seat per 62,625 persons

Spain population in 2011 was 46,152,926
Elected Congress of Deputies 350 seats, Senate 266 seats (208 elected by popular vote, 58 appointed by regional legislaturs), a total of 616 seats, i.e. 1 seat per 74,924 pesons

Canada population in 2011 was 34,278,406
Elected members of parliament 308, but if including non-elected senators the total is 413, i.e. 1 seat per 111,294 persons based on elected members, or 1 seat per 82,999 persons based on a combined upper and lower chambers

Australia population in 2010 was 22,342,400
House of Representatives 150 seats, Senate 76 seats of proportional representation, a combined total of 226 seats i.e. 1 seat per 98,860 persons

Portugal population in 2011 was 10,636,979
Elected Assembly of the Republic 230 seats, i.e. 1 seat per 46,248 persons

Conclusion, Greece has the lowest population to parliamentary seat ratio of the above countries, pointing to the problem of over representation. 

Sadly, by closing the Greek parliament and inviting foreign experts to manage Greek laws and Greek sovereign debt will make Greece more competitive and will ease some unfair austerity bills passed by the Greek parliament.

Other interesting links:

Richard Koo’s prescription for Greece (and Germany)

Comparing sovereignty debt charts

Greek poll results since the last election (scroll further down the link to view a chart)

Dictionary definition of 'siphon' has been wrong for nearly a century

It is the gravity and not the difference in atmospheric pressure that makes siphon works as Dr. Stephen W Hughes clarified.

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