FNF Greece: It’s the people who decide! – On realizing the principle of subsidiarity in Greece

DSCN0109The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) opened a dialogue on the principle of subsidiarity in Greece with a four-day roadshow organized in cooperation with the Greek Center for Liberal Studies (KEFIM-Markos Dragoumis). The guiding principle of the road show was the notion that many citizens consider “subsidiarity” rather an academic theory than a concept relevant to their own lives. Although it is discussed most frequently in distant Brussels, it should be in the focal point of citizens and local politicians alike.

The aim of this roadshow was to discuss local efforts of self-governance with the local authorities and, above all, with the respective citizens. With the belief that political decisions, wherever applicable, should be taken on the level closest to the citizen, FNF and KEFIM organized discussions in the Greek cities of Patras, Oropos, Iraklio and Chania. The “advocates of subsidiarity” consisted of Thodoros Skylakakis MEP (President of Drasi), Gregoris Vallianatos (President of Liberal Alliance), Nikos Yannis (European Commission) and Nikolaos Charalambous (Secretary General of KEFIM).

DSCN0140In Patras, the group met with several representatives from the civil society as well as the local press, and ended the day with a public panel discussion. In Oropos (Northern Attica), local Mayor Yannis Oikonomakos took the time to thoroughly discuss the topic, which he said was “supremely relevant to his daily work”. In addition, several members of the local city council, the think tank “Koinon Oropion”, and the President of the Municipal Port Authority of Oropos received the group with great interest. Local channel “Space TV” reported on the vespertine panel discussion which was realized at the seafront and attracted a big crowd.

DSCN0175In Iraklio, the group met with Manolis Alifierakis, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Greece’s fourth-largest city, as well as other members of the chamber. The Vice-Mayor welcomed the liberals to the City of Iraklio and local “Kriti.TV” reported about the panel discussion in the evening. On the last day of the roadshow, the group travelled to Rethymno where it met with Mayor Giorgis Marinakis and Georgios Giakoumakis, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Rethymno. The four-day roadshow was rounded off with another public discussion.

DSCN0094The active participation of local citizens in all panel discussions was a promising message for civil society activism as well as for the deliberation of local administrations from the established model of centralization in Greece. It generates hope that at the local and regional elections, which will be held together with the European elections on 25 May 2014, liberal ideas will have a chance to stand the test in practice.

Athanasios Grammenos & Markus Kaiser