After three years of protests, strikes and riots against austerity measures and the New Democracy (ND) Conservative and PASOK Socialist parties for creating Greece’s crushing economic crisis and imposing pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions, a new cabinet of ministers from the two parties who will serve in a power-sharing government under Prime Minister and ND chief Antonis Samaras was sworn in on June 25.
The plum spots of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister went to PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos as a reward for backing Samaras’ closing of the national broadcaster ERT and the firing of all its 2,656 workers on June 11.
Samaras shook up his administration to give other key roles to PASOK officials in the wake of the Democratic Left (DIMAR) leaving the coalition in protest against the ERT shutdown.
Venizelos accepted a compromise from Samaras to bring back as many as 2,000 ERT workers temporarily and restore the station’s signal as ordered by the country’s highest court, the Council of State on June 17, which the government is still ignoring.
The court also said, however that Samaras had the right to restructure ERT and his initial plans were to rehire 1000-1200 of the staff to run a new operation to be called NERIT and have it up and running by the end of the summer.
With Venizelos also getting the foreign minister’s spot, bumping Dimitris Avramopoulos to defense minister, Samaras also increased his Cabinet from 17 to 19 ministers, breaking another campaign vow to reduce the size of the administration.
The new cabinet, which includes 11 members of PASOK in ministerial and deputy ministerial posts, was sworn in a ceremony presided over by President Karolos Papoulias.
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, a former ERT worker who denounced the operation after he left, also kept his post despite reports he would be ousted because he had become a lightning rod for criticism of hypocrisy. Samaras and Venizelos reformed the Cabinet in a meeting on June 24 and put it together within hours.
Technocrat Yannis Stournaras, a close aide to Samaras who had been the point man on negotiation with international lenders over ongoing reforms, kept his position as Finance minister as did several other key cabinet members, including Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias, Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis, Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni and Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos.
Pantelis Kapsis, a former government spokesman under the technocratic government of 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.
As anticipated, PASOK’s involvement in the new government was doubled with Yiannis Maniatis assuming the helm at the Environment Ministry and Michalis Chrysochoidis taking on a new autonomous Transport Ministry. Several other PASOK cadres were given key roles, including Evi Christofilopoulou, who is to be ND’s Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s deputy in the Administrative Reform Ministry hot seat.
Unexpected appointments included the posting in the Health Ministry of conservative MP Adonis Georgiadis, formerly with the far-right LAOS party, with his ND peer Yiannis Michelakis assuming the top spot at the Interior Ministry. Georgiadis’ appointment led another ND appointee, Sophia Voultepsi, to decline the deputy’s role there. Georgiadis has been a political pit bull for Samaras, going after rivals.
With Avramopoulos moved to the Defense Ministry, the incumbent there, Panos Panagiotopoulos, took the Culture portfolio.
The major opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), which is opposed to the bailout plan from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) issued a statement denouncing the new coalition, saying it can’t save what it felt was a collapsing government and predicted more austerity measures coming.
The announcement further adds that “the bailout forces have moved on from fairytales of investments and growth to attempting to destroy public television and expand into all public organizations.” According to SYRIZA new wage and pension cuts and new taxes will be necessary to cover the funding deficit and correct the miscalculations of the previous measures.
“There is no doubt that the new cabinet and government plan will be focused on an even more strict implementation of the bailout program and shrinking of democracy, closing the eyes before the dramatic repercussions for the economy and society,” it said. SYRIZA’s announcement concluded that “the Greek people will defend democracy and their rights and throw away the new government’s plan”.
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