Samaras, Venizelos confirm reshuffle in the works

A meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Deputy Premier Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday led to the coalition confirming that there will be a cabinet reshuffle, although a date for the ministerial changes was not set.

“The reshuffle requires groundwork and for the country’s commitments as part of its European Union presidency to be taken into account,” said government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou.

His comment suggests that Samaras and Venizelos may wait until Greece’s presidency concludes at the end of June before announcing the new ministerial lineup. However, the two leaders may want to avoid an extended period of speculation by revealing the new cabinet as early as next week.

Apart from changes to government personnel, Samaras and Venizelos discussed the outcome of the European Parliament elections and the need for the coalition to ease the burden on as many as Greeks as possible. Among the measures being considered by the government is making it easier for those who owe the state money to pay it back.

“We are on the same wavelength,” Venizelos said of his talks with the premier. “It is our obligation to respond to people’s needs and provide solutions to the problems that we are all familiar with.”

Sources also suggested the meeting led to the two men agreeing that someone other than Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras should become the next Bank of Greece governor.

Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis, who has tendered his resignation, insisted Thursday that he has no designs on succeeding Karolos Papoulias as the next president of the republic when his terms ends in February. However, four DIMAR MPs publicly declared their support for such a development. Kathimerini spoke to another three who said they would back the idea of Kouvelis being nominated for the presidency.

This could solve DIMAR’s problem of what to do after its disappointing result in the European Parliament elections and could provide a way out for the government, which needs any nominee to attract the support of at least 180 MPs if snap polls are to be prevented.

The government currently has 152 MPs and although several independents are expected to return to the coalition camp, the support of DIMAR’s 14 lawmakers for the government’s presidential candidate could be crucial to achieving the target needed to avoid going to national elections.