Greek PM opts for limited reshuffle


Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras opted for a limited cabinet reshuffle on Friday, suggesting that his main aim for the time being is to stabilize his government and see through the next few weeks of negotiations with the country’s lenders.

Tsipras changed only a total of nine government positions, with some of those involving ministers switching posts. The new personnel brought into the government came from SYRIZA or coalition partner Independent Greeks, a further indication that the prime minister did not want to make any bold gestures at the moment as fresh elections may be only a few weeks away.

The reshuffle saw Tsipras remove from his government the one minister and four alternate ministers who had voted against the first set of prior actions demanded by Greece’s lenders on Wednesday.

Euclid Tsakalotos, who replaced Yanis Varoufakis as finance minister earlier this month, remained in place. Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis will also continue in his position.
Labor Minister Panos Skourletis, one of Tsipras’s closest allies, will replace Panayiotis Lafazanis as energy minister. Alternate Minister for Administrative Reform Giorgos Katrougalos will take over at the Labor Ministry.

Alongside Lafazanis, the leader of SYRIZA’s Left Platform, Alternate Labor Minister Dimitris Stratoulis, and Alternate Defense Minister Costas Isichos also lost their jobs. They were among the 32 SYRIZA lawmakers who voted against the measures in Parliament.

Stratoulis was replaced by surprise choice Pavlos Haikalis, a comic actor who is an MP with Independent Greeks and has no administrative experience.

Ex-Alternate Finance Minister Nadia Valavani, who resigned from her position ahead of Wednesday’s vote, was replaced by Tryfon Alexiadis, who is the head of the Athens and Piraeus tax inspectors’ union.

Another newcomer to the government is academic Christoforos Vernardakis, an assistant professor at the department of political science at Aristotle University. He will take up the position at the Administrative Reform Ministry vacated by Katrougalos.

Tsipras also decided to change the government spokesperson, appointing SYRIZA lawmaker Olga Gerovasili to replace Gavriil Sakellaridis, who will be one of the leftist party’s parliamentary spokesmen.

The new cabinet is due to be sworn in at the Presidential Mansion at around noon on Saturday.