Coalition plays down another ministerial departure

About 12 hours after the coalition government received a vote of confidence in Parliament, paving the way for it to begin its work, the administration led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras suffered a fresh blow as yet another minister announced he was quitting.

Deputy Labor Minister Nikos Nikolopoulos said on Monday he was leaving the government because he disagreed with the decision not to renegotiate the terms of Greece?s bailout.

?The sole reason for my resignation is my personal conviction that the issue of renegotiating with the troika, as well as the correction of significant distortions in labor, pension, social security and welfare issues, should have been emphatically put on the table from the start,? he wrote in his resignation letter.

Although Nikolopoulos, an MP in the Achaia area of the Peloponnese, is not a high-profile figure, his resignation comes days after Giorgos Vernikos resigned as deputy merchant marine minister and Vassilis Rapanos walked away from the top job at the Finance Ministry.

The government played down the latest departure, suggesting that Nikolopoulos had not been prepared for the tough task he would have to take on.

?There is no reasonable explanation for this,? government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said. ?The negotiation with the troika has not started yet and only yesterday he voted in favor of the government. Not everyone is cut out for tough times.? The tone of Kedikoglou?s remarks is thought to reflect Samaras?s anger with the resignation.

Sources said Nikolopoulos, a New Democracy MP since 1989, is likely to have left for one of three reasons. It seems he expected to be appointed labor minister and was disappointed to be serving under Yiannis Vroutsis. There are also suggestions he was worried by the hard line taken by the troika on labor issues and reports linking him to an attempt to interfere with a financial probe. Kavala MP Nikos Panayiotopoulos will replace Nikolopoulos.

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