Simitis’s Cabinet will be made to order

The ruling PASOK party turned a page in its 27-year history yesterday by electing a new generation of members to the top decision-making organ, the Executive Bureau, and also electing with a broad-based vote Costas Laliotis as the party’s new general-secretary. The first meeting of the Central Committee to emerge from the 6th Congress which ended on October 14 elected the 11 members of the new Executive Bureau in a way that confirmed all the choices presented by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, the party leader. He is now in a stronger position with regard to opponents in the party. All indications are that the Cabinet reshuffle, which is expected today, will confirm Simitis’s dominance in his choosing ministers according to what he wants and not as a result of discussions and compromises with leading party members, nor in order to reward cadres for past work. Simitis will, in other words, choose ministers according to what he expects them to accomplish in specific sectors. Sources in the prime minister’s office say that Simitis will try to set up a Cabinet whose members will have minimal problems in working together, with the least possible friction and will work as quickly as time demands. The key points of the reshuffle are the positions that the current defense minister, Akis Tsochadzopoulos, the national economy minister, Yiannos Papantoniou, and Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou will be given. Where these three go will determine the rest of the team. Simitis, however, is said to want to keep the economy and finance team working smoothly so that there will be no bumps on the policy of adapting Greece’s economy to the challenges of the eurozone. The election of Laliotis as general secretary and the entry into the Executive Bureau of young party members belonging to the reformist camp, such as Dimitris Reppas, Michalis Neonakis and Milena Apostolaki, confirm Simitis’s strength in the party, especially when seen against the fact that Theodoros Pangalos, an outspoken former foreign minister, lost his bid to get into the Executive Bureau when he ran against Simitis’s wishes. Also, Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who emerged as the top vote-getter for the Central Committee after Laliotis at the congress yesterday, saw himself fall to number 7 on the 11-member Executive Bureau. Of the 181 votes (the 180 Central Committee members plus party leader Simitis), Laliotis got 147. Thirty-two ballots were blank and two invalid. Members of the new Executive Bureau, in order of votes, are: Vasso Papandreou (147), Apostolos Kaklamanis (119), Evangelos Venizelos (110), Dimitris Reppas (99), Costas Skandalidis (98), Michalis Neonakis (97), George Papandreou (95), Akis Tsochadzopoulos (82), Milena Apostolaki (73), Tonia Antoniou (58), and Christos Papoutsis (56). Failing to get in were Theodoros Pangalos (50) and Irini Lambraki (29). Paralympics

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