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Thessaloniki’s exemplary revival
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photo source:capsishotelthessaloniki

Thessaloniki’s exemplary revival

via: The Economist

The northern port city of Thessaloniki has for decades been an underperformer. The recently re-elected mayor, Yiannis Boutaris, 72, has begun to turn the tide of the city’s fortunes, improving public administration, the city’s fiscal situation and its performance as a tourism destination. There is still a lot to be done to transform the city, but a start has been made. Perhaps Mr Boutaris’ greatest success so far may not be quantifiable. In a single term, he has tried to instil a culture of co-operation, overturning decades of mistrust. To win over more of the city’s inhabitants, he needs to deliver results in his second term.

Yiannis Boutaris was elected mayor as an independent and took over the management of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, at the start of 2011—the worst possible juncture. Greece was in the midst of a major economic and financial crisis, the political fallout from which led to a double national election in 2012 and a highly testing period for the country. At the same time, Thessaloniki was close to bankruptcy, partly owing to criminal actions by members of the previous administration, as it turned out.

Increasing transparency and accountability

The problems facing the new mayor appeared intractable. Local administration in Greece is part of an inefficient and bureaucratic apparatus that has been known for mishandling of resources, and Thessaloniki was no exception. From the beginning of his term, Mr Boutaris tried to increase transparency, including by inviting external auditors to monitor and record the city’s financial situation. In addition, he facilitated the work of the judiciary in its fraud-related investigation and prosecution of members of the previous administration. (His predecessor was given a life sentence for embezzlement in early 2014.) Setting an example of transparency and proper handling of public funds in an environment prone to mishandling was just a start, however…

source/read more: theeconomist

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