NEWS

Light reshuffle seeks balance

TAGS: Politics

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gave his cabinet a light reshuffle on Tuesday, promoting certain close associates and bringing in some new faces while keeping key ministry posts untouched.

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos all kept their jobs, as had been widely expected.

But while Tsipras’s key aim appeared to have been preserving stability ahead of general elections, which are scheduled for next fall but expected to happen sooner, he also brought people from other parts of the political spectrum into his cabinet in a bid to broaden the potential reach of his government. 

The most controversial choice was Katerina Papacosta, the independent MP and former conservative cadre, who was appointed deputy minister of citizens’ protection under Olga Gerovassili, who was moved to the helm of that ministry from her post at that of Administrative Reform.

Gerovassili was replaced by another newcomer, former socialist minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou. Papacosta’s move – she is expected to join the junior partner Independent Greeks – will also boost the government’s majority in the 300-seat House to 153.

Other notable changes included the promotion of Alexis Haritsis from deputy economy minister to interior minister, replacing Panos Skourletis who was appointed general secretary of leftist SYRIZA on Monday.

Tsipras appointed the government’s general secretary, Michalis Kalogirou, as justice minister and promoted Alternate Defense Minister Fotis Kouvelis by putting him at the helm of the Shipping Ministry. Myrsini Zorba, a professor of cultural theory, was appointed culture minister.

Although Tsipras had originally pledged to streamline the government when he came to power, his cabinet now numbers 53 people.

New Democracy poured scorn on the reshuffle, with party officials dismissing it as “much ado about nothing.” ND spokesperson Maria Spiraki said that nothing has changed and that the “real reshuffle” will be the general election, when “citizens will show Mr Tsipras the way from the Maximos Mansion [the PM’s office] back to Koumoundourou [SYRIZA party headquarters].”

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