Two types of messages are invariably heard in the wake of every reshuffle, regardless of the government executing it: praise and condemnation. The first category consists of comments made by the prime minister concerning his decision. Any prime minister – under obligation to show that every move is dictated by a lucid and well-formed political plan and not as a response to partisan pressures or in an effort to make an impression – will try to impart the notion that his choices are incredibly important. This explains the use of such strong epithets as “radical” and “structural,” for example. In short, the head of the government is quick to translate his own decision before it is even made public and to give (or impose) his own interpretation as being the only real one – a fact which is almost never the case.
The messages in the latter category come from the opposition and consist of snap judgements on the reshuffle. In the latest reshuffle what we heard was big words, snappy one-liners and plenty of wordplay. And all of this – which is little more than the result of intellectual sloth – actually started coming out before the reshuffle was even formally announced to undermine the process from the onset. This is an understandable desire, but exercising opposition by rehashing old criticism is no way to snag the political clout you so desire. We’ve already realized that politicians are no longer hiring good writers, just admen and sloganeers.
Is the reshuffle as radical as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras would have us suggest or was he just spouting meaningless stereotypes? Is making Stergios Pitsiorlas a minister after he managed to irk half the previous cabinet when he was head of the TAIPED privatization fund a way of ensuring unity, as Tsipras claimed? And what kind of radical change is such a blatant verification of the fact that while leftist SYRIZA is by far the biggest party in the coalition, it still remains a prisoner of its nationalist partner Independent Greeks (ANEL)?
Panos Kamennos’s party is in fact the biggest winner after the reshuffle, both from an ideological and a political standpoint. There is proof enough of this in the removal of former education minister Nikos Filis (the support he enjoyed from the party’s members was obviously deemed inconsequential compared to the pressure being exercised by Kammenos) and the naming of Costas Zouraris as alternate education minister, the man behind the idiosyncratic citizens’ movement “Blazing Greece” who also addressed Parliament in Ancient Greek.
The other big winner was the Church of Greece – in its most conservative version – which is behaving like a regular opposition party or, rather, as if it were co-governing the country.