There is nothing quite so-off putting as politicians foisting austerity measures on the public but wallowing in excess themselves. Britain has been gripped with the parliamentary expenses scandal whilst Americans have cringed at the vacation expenses the president’s wife runs up from the public coffers, highlighted in this Digital Journal
article. Now a Greek politician has made an unusual announcement that may well inspire other politicians to follow suit and would certainly improve their credibility.
Spyridan (Spiros) Galinos
, Hellenic representative of Lesvos for the opposition party New Democracy (ND: Νέα Δημοκρατία) announced today that he is forfeiting the perks that go with the job. Elected in 2009 he considers the parliamentary privileges he is entitled to unnecessary.
According to Athens News
, Galinos said
"I am a new MP. I found the privileges (when taking office), I did not make them. From the beginning, I used only what was necessary to do my job efficiently. The rest, I tried to make use of them for the benefit of our prefecture and, wherever this was not possible, I forfeited them.”
Galinos is turning his back on a member of parliament’s car, first class flight tickets from Lesvos to the mainland and 1,000 euros rent allowance. Additionally he is forfeiting the public paid for police protection provided by two policemen, and the use of a civil servant. Extra pay that Galinos receives for participating in parliamentary committees will be donated to cover citizens’ needs.
The Greek parliament consists of 300 members. Whilst not all agree with imposing austerity measures on the country, they would all improve their image if they followed the example of the member for Lesvos. Their sacrifice wouldn’t make much of a dent in the national deficit but it would at least go some way to convincing the overstretched Greek public that politicians are willing to endure a touch of austerity themselves.