Stournaras' future uncertain as cabinet reshuffle looms

The future of Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and the shape that the next cabinet will take were put in doubt on Tuesday amid reports that the head of the government’s economic policy feels he is being made a political scapegoat.

Sources close to Stournaras denied reports that he had expressed displeasure about plans to remove him from his post as part of a cabinet reshuffle aimed at reviving the government’s fortunes in the wake of mixed results. “The minister is going about his work as normal at the ministry,” the sources told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA).

Earlier reports had suggested that Stournaras would be sacrificed due to his unpopularity with voters. AMNA then published comments from Stournaras’s aides that claimed the minister was unhappy at being the target of criticism from within the government.

Stournaras has been touted as the successor to Bank of Greece Governor Giorgos Provopoulos. The government has to choose Provopoulos’s replacement in the next 10 days as his tenure comes to an end. It is thought that the cabinet reshuffle will be put off until Greece’s presidency of the European Union finishes at the end of next month.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was in Brussels on Tuesday for an EU leaders’ summit. “In order to reform Europe we need competitiveness, job creation... and solidarity between member states,” he said.

There were no comments from the government on possible plans to change the electoral law before the next general elections. PASOK is promoting the idea of scrapping or reducing the 50-seat bonus that is given to the first party past the post.

Leftist SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is on Wednesday expected to repeat his conviction that the government’s parliamentary majority is essentially bogus following his party’s victory in last Sunday’s European Parliament elections. In his scheduled speech on Wednesday before industrialists at the general assembly of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises, Tsipras is expected to stress that the government’s majority is based on an outdated system while also claiming that its economic policies have failed.

Strategists in the SYRIZA camp are said to be mulling PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos’s idea for a change to the electoral law as an outright rejection would represent an abrupt shift in SYRIZA’s criticism of the 50-seat bonus system and appear opportunistic in view of the leftists’ lead in the polls. Several leftist lawmakers including spokesman Panos Skourletis said the party would be prepared to agree to a change in the electoral law as long as it foresees proportional representation.