CULTURE

Costas Karamanlis’s appointment sees new chapter in family saga

There are a number of interesting coincidences: first of all, that New Democracy President Costas Karamanlis became prime minister – at the age of 47-and-a-half, the youngest in the history of modern Greece – a year younger than his uncle, the late Constantine Karamanlis, was when he became prime minister in 1955 with the Greek Rally party. Karamanlis the younger was sworn in as prime minister on March 10, the same date as his uncle’s birthday (February 23 by the old calendar in use at that time), setting in motion the Karamanlis chapter in Greek history. In order to complete the Olympic construction projects, what was originally planned as a small, flexible Cabinet was enlarged, with the addition of many deputy ministers. The oldest member of the new government is the distinguished honorary ambassador Petros Molyviatis, 76, who has assumed the post of foreign minister, assisted by the youngest member of the Cabinet, 38-year-old Evripidis Stylianidis. The average age of government members is 53. The daily Eleftherotypia carried the headline «Conservative lady, 53 years of age, seeks employment» on the day the government was sworn in. At the first session of the new Cabinet (whose general secretary is Professor Argyris Karras), the prime minister issued a warning: «No ostentatious social life, either for yourselves or your family, no public statements or displays of exhibitionism.» All this before stating the government’s program. «If there is something that I abhor, it is the arrogance of power,» he said, and he meant it. As if by a miracle, suddenly all the more loquacious ministers disappeared off the television talk shows. The younger Karamanlis is just like his uncle, who expected all his ministers to turn up early at their offices – and he would check up on them, too. History is repeating itself. As PASOK mulls the reasons for ND’s 5.45 percent lead in repeated meetings and exchanges of views between party leader George Papandreou and old and new members, the New Democracy party has wasted no time celebrating. Karamanlis received his mandate from President Costis Stephanopoulos on Monday, announced his Cabinet on Tuesday, and all were sworn in on Wednesday. Immediately afterward, the prime minister sent everyone off on foot to Parliament for the first Cabinet meeting, while he himself went to the prime minister’s office for the official «changing of the guard.» There, they were received by outgoing Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who had served for eight-and-a-half years. Karamanlis saw him off, standing alone with his thoughts for a moment at the entrance to Maximos Mansion as the photographers recorded the historic moment after 20 years of PASOK governments. Goodbye to the opposition, hello to the responsibilities of power.