NEWS

After Toskas departure, PM looks to government reshuffle

COSTIS P. PAPADIOCHOS

TAGS: Politics

Following the departure of Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas from the government – a delayed response to the fatal wildfires that ravaged Attica last month – Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is said to be mulling a more sweeping overhaul of his cabinet in a bid to appease public discontent and signal that his administration is robust ahead of anticipated snap polls next spring.

It is expected that a reshuffle will be announced after Greece’s scheduled exit from its international bailouts on August 20 but before the end of the month and certainly before Tsipras takes the stage at the Thessaloniki International Fair on September 9.

Interior Minister Panos Skourletis, a close aide to the premier who has temporarily assumed Toskas’s duties, is expected to keep his post. The same is likely to apply to Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, the leader of junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL).

Although ANEL’s objections to Greece’s name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have created a headache for the government, dismissing Kammenos would likely cause more upheaval.

It remains unclear whether Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos will stay in his post. Originally he was expected to stay in order to provide a sense of continuity as Greece enters the “post-bailout” era, but recently there has been speculation about a possible departure.

It is widely thought that some new faces will join the cabinet. Among the names being discussed is that of former PASOK minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou.

In any case, with snap polls widely expected next May, along with local authority and European elections, Tsipras is certain to want to spruce up his weary administration.

Conservative New Democracy retains a strong lead over leftist SYRIZA in opinion polls, with speculation that the former might be able to boost its support in the countdown to elections and possibly even secure a strong majority.

There are also indications that public anger over the government’s slow response to last month’s deadly fires might boost the Communist Party and far-right Golden Dawn, while the outlook for the centrist Movement for Change remains unclear, with some believing that it will benefit from discontent over the fires and others predicting a migration of support to ND.

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