Samaras radically reshuffles Cabinet

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Monday carried out a radical overhaul of his cabinet, replacing Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras with economist and former prime-ministerial adviser Gikas Hardouvelis (photo) and introducing different faces from both coalition parties.

As expected, Stournaras left the Finance Ministry and is likely to take the top post at the Bank of Greece, replacing Giorgos Provopoulos, whose term expires later this month. Hardouvelis, a professor of finance and banking administration at the University of Piraeus, economic adviser to Eurobank and former adviser to ex-premiers Lucas Papademos and Costas Simitis, will be tasked with pushing reforms and leading debt relief talks in the fall.

Other key changes in the cabinet included Sofia Voultepsi taking over as government spokesperson from Simos Kedikoglou, who left the government. It was Voultepsi who announced the new lineup on Monday.

Additional surprise moves include the appointment of New Democracy MP Argyris Dinopoulos as interior minister, replacing Yiannis Michelakis, who was not given another post.

ND MP Constantinos Tasoulas took over as head of the Culture Ministry, ejecting Panos Panayiotopoulos, while Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos was replaced by former PASOK minister Andreas Loverdos. ND’s parliamentary spokesman Makis Voridis took the top slot at the Health Ministry, replacing Adonis Georgiadis, his former fellow MP at right-wing LAOS. The new public order minister is ND’s Vassilis Kikilias, with incumbent Nikos Dendias picking up the Development Ministry portfolio, replacing Costis Hatzidakis, who has left the government. The Agricultural Development portfolio meanwhile went to ND’s Giorgos Karasmanis who replaces Athanasios Tsaftaris.

Those staying in their posts include Evangelos Venizelos, as deputy PM and foreign minister, Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis, Transport Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni and Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis.

The new cabinet is to be sworn in during a ceremony on Tuesday led by Archbishop Ieronymos. Main opposition SYRIZA dismissed the reshuffle as cosmetic, noting it would not change the direction of the government’s austerity drive.