Veto Player and the Greek Constitution, Part 3

von George Tsebelis

For part 2 of this series click here, for part 1 here.

3. Barking up the wrong tree

From the previous analysis follows that if there is something wrong with the Greek Constitution is that it is too restrictive, too long, and too locked. I do not have an exhaustive list of excessive restrictions. I have argued that the inclusion of the definition of “forest” is an excess, I have argued that the principle of proportionality should not be included, not because it should be replaced, but it should not enshrined and give to activist judges a free pass to get involved in every subject. The European Union has forced us to ignore article 14 about the major shareholder. In a comparative perspective, there are constitutions that speak about “conflict of interest” and define what should be done in order to be avoided (like turn over stock to some managing firm) but no other constitution in the world goes into such detailed restrictions.

Here I will talk just about one example that I know for professional reasons. Article 16 of the Greek Constitution precludes the existence of private universities. Greece is the only OECD country with such a constitutional restriction. Elimination of this article was aborted in the previous round of revisions. There are two issues concerning article 16. The first one is: should we permit private education at the university level or not? The second, whatever our decision, should we eternalize it by including it in the constitution? The answer to the second is an emphatic NO. We are not the smartest OECD country in the world to have this restriction while the others do not. I would also argue that even a legal (as opposed to constitutional) prohibition is seriously misplaced because if higher education is a lever in the progress of a country restricting the institutions that provide it, and therefore restricting competition among them is a fundamentally wrong ...

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