NEWS

As political cost from fire escalates, reshuffle looms closer

COSTIS P. PAPADIOCHOS

TAGS: Politics, Fires

Last week’s devastating fire has undeniably put the government on the back foot, with reports suggesting that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will expedite plans for a cabinet reshuffle in a bid to press the reset button after what was arguably a politically disastrous week.

Reports over the weekend suggested this could be done even before the Thessaloniki International Fair in early September, where incumbents traditionally outline their policies and try to highlight their government’s purported achievements. However, analysts say a reshuffle, no matter how extensive, will not be enough to reverse the political climate.

The disastrous wildfire in east Attica showed that the government failed miserably to deal with major crises, including last November’s deadly flood in Mandra in western Attica. Critics say the leftist-led coalition does not have a leg to stand on as it has already been in power for four years and had ample time to prepare the state apparatus for disasters on this scale.

According to analysts, it will be a huge surprise if Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas remains in his post. Toskas said last week that he had submitted his resignation but Tsipras did not accept it as it would have been seen as an acknowledgement that the fire was not handled properly.

The disaster is also expected to spoil the government’s plans to celebrate the country’s exit from its bailout program on August 21 after years of financial turmoil. The exit is fundamental to the narrative of ruling SYRIZA, which is lagging in the polls, that Greece has turned a page.

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