ATHENS (Reuters) - A Greek politician who stirred anger by hiring his daughter in parliament on the one day he was house speaker faced public calls for his resignation on Thursday amid widespread disenchantment with the ruling class.
Weathering its fifth year of recession and battling to remain inside the euro, many people in Greece blame the mainstream political parties that have ruled the country for almost four decades for cronyism in the bloated public sector.
Against such a backdrop, the case of Conservative New Democracy MP Byron Polydoras has struck a nerve.
He was appointed parliament speaker for just one day after an inconclusive general election on May 6, in a temporary cabinet whose only purpose was to call a repeat vote for June 17.
Polydoras used his brief spell as speaker to make his daughter a permanent employee in his office, according to published official documents. Like other civil servants, that meant she could not be fired under the constitution.
Local media slammed the move as “immoral” and a Facebook page titled “Polydoras’s resignation now” had more than 2,200 fans on Thursday.
“That’s what he needs to do (resign) after the ridiculous appointment of his daughter when thousands of kids are without work and without a future,” one visitor posted on the site.
The public backlash came as new data on Thursday showed Greece’s jobless rate climbed to a new record in May, with nearly 55 percent of those aged 15-24 out of work.
Polydoras, a flamboyant politician who likes to quote ancient Greek philosophers, rushed to defend himself on Thursday, saying he had every right to give his daughter the job.
“I filled the position of just one employee - instead of six - by appointing my daughter who is a close, valuable colleague,” Polydoras was quoted as saying by the Eleftheros Typos newspaper.
“She has three Master’s degrees, speaks four languages and I ask myself why this issue was made public now,” he added.
Private sector workers have long complained that public offices are filled with idle civil servants who are put there in return for votes and are then protected by the constitution from being sacked.
“Byron Polydoras was house speaker for just one day,” Greek commentator Ilias Kanellis wrote in Ta Nea. “Had he stayed one more day, would he hire his other daughter as well?”
Reporting by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Andrew Osborn