NEWS

Samaras irks coalition partners over new ministry posts

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s decision to prepare the ground for the appointment of six more deputy ministers in his government on Friday led to fresh speculation about a reshuffle and caused annoyance among New Democracy’s two coalition partners, who said they had not been consulted about the initiative.

The creation of six extra deputy ministerial posts was announced in the Government Gazette and prompted consternation in the three-party coalition. PASOK and Democratic Left said Samaras had not sought their approval.

“The government must be as streamlined and functional as possible, with emphasis on the ministries that have the most work to do in terms of reform and growth,” aides of PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos told Kathimerini.

When the coalition was formed after last June’s elections, the three parties agreed to form a 39-member government, which was considered to be unnecessarily large by some commentators at the time.

“It has been proved before in Greece that such a large ministerial lineup is ineffective and counterproductive,” said Andreas Papadopoulos, the spokesman for junior coalition partner Democratic Left, following the news that more members might be joining the government. “Apart from this, it may make it more difficult for the three parties to cooperate.”

Samaras’s move sparked fresh speculation about a possible reshuffle. Venizelos has already made it known that he wants PASOK, which, like Democratic Left, has no frontline politicians in the Cabinet, to participate more actively in the government. Democratic Left has insisted that it would not accept its two candidates, Antonis Manitakis and Antonis Roupakiotis, being moved from the Administrative Reform and Justice ministries, respectively.

Sources close to Samaras said that the creation of six new posts was not related to reshuffle plans but part of the reorganization of ministries that Greece has been working on with the EU Task Force. They said that the prime minister is unlikely to make changes to the Cabinet before the troika has completed its next review, due to take place in June.