NEWS

Pressure mounts on PM to reshuffle his Cabinet

Prime Minister George Papandreou came under growing pressure on Wednesday to reshuffle his Cabinet in an attempt to give new momentum to his government, which is struggling under criticism from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, dissenting PASOK MPs and protesting voters.

Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou, one of the highest-profile members of the Cabinet, admitted that the government had lost its way and that changes needed to be made to its frontline personnel. ?The government has lost enough time,? she told Mega TV. ?Whoever is reluctant should get up and leave.?

Diamantopoulou appeared to agree with those who have been arguing that Papandreou needs to bring in people from outside the sphere of politics to help run the country. She called on the prime minister to draw from ?the whole of society? to help ?save the country.?

Sources said that ministers are taking it as a given that there will be a reshuffle. In fact, some are advising the prime minister to carry it out before the midterm fiscal plan, which will introduce fresh austerity measures, is passed through Parliament.

One of the ministers whose position could be under threat is Giorgos Papaconstantinou. The finance minister came under attack from PASOK MPs on Tuesday and his growing unpopularity within the ruling party could prompt Papandreou to replace him.

?I am stating it absolutely clearly that we will not accept any changes to the tax on heating oil without a redistribution mechanism,? PASOK deputy Paris Koukoulopoulos told Athina 984 radio on Wednesday. ?We will not accept all the privatizations happening at the same time.?

Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader Giorgos Karatzaferis launched an outspoken attack on Papaconstantinou in Parliament, referring to him as ?a college boy with no social or professional achievements who lacks any experience of the market.?

Papaconstantinou?s deputy, Filippos Sachinidis, also came under attack on Wednesday when he briefed MPs on whether the government is meeting its budget targets.