Coalition looking to move on from bailout review
Over the next few days, the government is hoping to complete the amendments to recent legislation that have been demanded by Greece’s lenders and then shift its focus to drafting its own bills, with the possibility that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras may also opt for a cabinet reshuffle to give his coalition fresh momentum.
Tsipras has asked his ministers to move quickly to satisfy the creditors’ latest legislative demands, which relate to, among others, the sale of non-performing loans and the EKAS benefit paid to low-income pensioners.
The coalition hopes that it will have completed the legislative process within the next few days so that Athens can move a step closer to receive the first tranche of its latest bailout funds, which should amount to 7.5 billion euros.
Should the promised funds arrive, the government then wants to concentrate on passing legislation that is not related to the bailout. The first in a series of new draft laws will be the development bill, aimed at fueling economic growth. This is set to be followed by would-be laws relating to fuel and tobacco smuggling and the so-called “social economy.”
The government hopes that the tabling of these bills will show that it is also formulating its own policies, not just fulfilling its bailout commitments. It could also serve to shift focus from the content of the unpopular measures passed through Parliament this month.
Another move that Tsipras is considering to boost his coalition’s fortunes is a change of ministers. The prime minister is believed to be weighing up whether it is better to conduct a reshuffle now or to wait until SYRIZA’s congress has been held. The congress is due to take place in July but there is a possibility it may be pushed back to the fall.
Making ministerial changes now may be considered unfair by some within the party, as Tsipras could be seen to be denying ministers the chance to show what they can do beyond the confines of talks for the conclusion of the bailout review, which have dragged on since last fall.
On the other hand, some within the government ranks feel a change may improve the coalition’s dismal ratings. A Macedonia University poll published on Friday indicated that 86.5 percent of Greeks are disappointed in the government and 41 percent would like snap elections.