chapter  4
20 Pages

Interest Groups in Disjointed Corporatism: Social Dialogue in Greece and European ‘Competitive Corporatism’

Mapping the archipelagos of Greek interests is a demanding exercise, made even more difficult by the paucity of theoretical schemes accounting for the combinations of different types of interest constellations, combinations such as the ones found in the Greek case. The ambivalence of organisational forms, coupled with a dialectic of historical continuity and discontinuity, present serious difficulties and dilemmas for the observer. Admittedly, this

article has a much narrower focus. It aims to make sense of the strategic and political parameters influencing the ways in which the main economic interest groups become involved in policy in contemporary Greece. A significant question regarding group involvement in policy – in a polity

marked with historical experiences of corporatism and union politicisation – has been the extent to which the system of interest intermediation affects the roles different interests come to play and the weight they possess. Interpreting Greece as a case of disjointed corporatism, I will argue, leads us to recognise the importance of inherited institutional and power asymmetries, coupled with new features acquired in the course of the Third Republic. The fact that social dialogue in Greece remains an exercise with a limited scope, I will argue further, is largely due to the fact that there is a difficult match between Greece’s disjointed corporatism and the EU’s emerging ‘competitive corporatism’. It should be noted from the outset that, in the past, Greek political culture

did not provide a fertile ground for positive perceptions of interests and associations. Interest groups have historically been considered to be particularistic and, in the light of this view, largely disruptive factors. The development of a more positive approach was a slow process. It involved not just the adoption of more ‘Europeanised’ views on associability, but also various modes of domestic politicisation. In the 1980s, as wider sectors of Greek society became re-politicised during the early years of the PASOK (Pan Hellenic Socialist Movement – Πανελλήνιο Σοσιαλιστικό Κίνημα) governments, larger numbers of people were drawn into active roles within the political system – a process described as ‘populist’ by some observers. With the openly hostile perception of particular forms of interest, the cognitive influence of Greek political culture on citizens and pundits alike has come full circle (branded ‘syntechnies’1 by the latter) (see Lavdas 2004). In fact, confused views on political culture often lead to approaches that conflate operational modalities vis-a`-vis particular institutional configurations and political-social contents.2 As Hardgrave and Kochanek (1986: 153) note with respect to extra-European political development, ‘although the new entrants into politics may often operate in a traditional mode, the political issues are by no means traditional’. Weiner (1965: 241), in his classic study of India’s ‘two political cultures’, reminds us that ‘there is nothing traditional about demands for more schools, roads, wells, fertilisers, and jobs’.