After repeatedly vowing he would not do so, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has shaken up his cabinet to reward PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, his remaining partner, with the key posts of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, as well as giving the Socialists other top jobs.
Venizelos, who last year refused to allow any of his members to join a shaky coalition that then included the tiny Democratic Left (DIMAR) out of apparent fear the government wouldn’t last in the face of unrelenting austerity measures, changed his stance after backing a decision by Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader to shut down the national broadcaster ERT and fire all 2,656 workers to satisfy international lenders.
Venizelos accepted a compromise to bring back some of the fired ERT workers to run the station temporarily – after the country’s highest court ordered its signal had to be restored while Samaras reorganized the station into a slimmed-down entity called NERIT with only 1000-1200 workers from the former staff. DIMAR leader Fotis Kouvelis did not and walked, shaking up the coalition.
Together, however, New Democracy and PASOK have a bare majority of 153 seats in the 300-member Parliament and are seen as having the backing as well of a handful of the 14 Independents and even Kouvelis said DIMAR might back some of the continuing reforms insisted upon by the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) in return for a second bailout of $173 billion.
The reshuffle means veteran New Democracy stalwart and former Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulous, who had voiced some dissatisfaction with the way Samaras handled ERT, was dumped as foreign minister with Venizelos getting the plum spot of being in the limelight as the Deputy Prime Minister’s job is largely symbolic and would leave him with almost nothing to do.
Avramopoulos was moved to the Defense Ministry, with the incumbent there, Panos Panagiotopoulos, taking the Culture portfolio. It’s traditional for ruling goverments to make political appointments to head ministries even if the job goes to someone who little or no qualifications and many politicians have held a number of ministerial positions. Samaras, who vowed to reduce the number of ministries when he was elected a year ago, added two more to increase them to 19.
Venizelos, as finance minister, led tough negotiations in 2011 with its international creditors and imposed 74 percent losses on investors and holders of Greek bonds to write down the country’s debt, although the decision locked Greece out of international markets as well. Ironically, Greece is now being ruled by the same two parties blamed for creating its crushing economic crisis even after three years of protests, strikes and riots against them.
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras kept his job, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said in a televised address, remaining Greece’s key negotiator with roika envoys who return for an inspection visit to Athens later this month.
Pantelis Kapsis, a former government spokesman under the technocratic government of former interim premier Lucas Papademos, was given the top post at a new ministry for the state broadcaster and is to be tasked with overhauling the defunct ERT, which remains off the air as Samaras has ignored a court order to turn the signal back on. Workers there, however, have continued to broadcast pirate signals on the Internet and via satellite with the assistance of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) which opposed the shutdown.
Unexpected appointments included the posting in the Health Ministry of conservative MP Adonis Georgiadis, who was known as being a strident screamer while with the far-right LAOS party before jumping to ship join New Democracy, Yiannis Michelakis assumes the top spot at the Interior Ministry.
The new cabinet (19 ministers and 23 deputy ministers) is to be sworn in at 12.30 p.m. on June 25 in a ceremony to be presided over by President Karolos Papoulias. New Democracy’s Sophia Voultepsi declined the appointment of Deputy Health Minister for personal reasons.
The new government of Greece :
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (ND)
Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos (PASOK, also foreign minister)
Administrative Reform and E-Governance Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (ND)
Alternate Evi Christofilopoulou (Pasok)
Culture and Sports Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos (ND)
Deputy Yannis Andrianos (ND)
Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos (ND)
Alternate Fofi Gennimata (PASOK)
Deputy Thanasis Davakis (ND)
Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis (ND)
Deputy Thanasis Skordas (ND)
Deputy Notis Mitarakis (ND, responsible for private investment)
Education and Religious Affairs Minister Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos (ND)
Deputy Symeon Kedikoglou (PASOK)
Deputy Kostas Gioulekas (ND)
Environment, Energy & Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis (PASOK)
Alternate Stavros Kalafatis (ND)
Deputy Asimakis Papageorgiou (ND, unelected. Former manager in energy sector)
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras (technocrat, unelected)
Alternate Christos Staikouras (ND, responsible for public spending)
Deputy George Mavraganis (Responsible for revenue. Former tax expert with KPMG)
Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos (PASOK)
Deputy Dimitris Kourkoulas (technocrat, former European Commission official)
Deputy Akis Gerontopoulos (ND)
Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis (ND)
Deputy Antonis Bezas (ND)
Deputy Zetta Makri (ND)
Interior Minister Yannis Michelakis (ND)
Alternate Leonidas Grigorakos (PASOK)
Justice, Transparency and Human Rights Minister Haralambos Athanassiou (ND, former Areios Pagos judge and head of the Union of Judges and Prosecutors (EDE))
Labour, Social Security and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis (ND)
Deputy Vasilis Kegeroglou (PASOK)
Macedonia-Thrace Minister Theodoros Karaoglou (ND)
Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias (ND)
Rural Development and Food Minister Athanasios Tsaftaris (technocrat, professor of genetics and plant breeding)
Alternate Maximos Harakopoulos (ND)
Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis (ND)
Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni (ND)
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis (PASOK)
Deputy Michalis Papadopoulos (ND)
State Minister Dimitris Stamatis (ND)
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou (ND)
Deputy Minister for Public Radio and Television Pantelis Kapsis