Cabinet reshuffle looms as gov’t tries to contain fallout from TV license debacle

Cabinet reshuffle looms as gov’t tries to contain fallout from TV license debacle

The government is attempting to contain the fallout from the debacle over its recent auction of television licenses so it can move on to a much-delayed reshuffle and breathe new life into the administration, possibly as early as next week.

Authorities hope to finalize and submit to a vote in Parliament on Thursday a legislative amendment annulling a law that transferred the authority for a TV license auction from the National Broadcasting Council (ESR) to State Minister Nikos Pappas, a close aide of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The main conservative opposition New Democracy has insisted on a series of changes to the bill proposed by the government, and Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis on Wednesday sought to bridge the objections of opposition parties.

The government has had to perform an about-turn on the TV license auction that it had championed as part of its war on corruption after the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, last month deemed it to be unconstitutional. The court’s objections were based on the fact that the government limited the number of licenses to four and the fact that Pappas oversaw the auction rather than ESR. The government’s counterargument to the latter objection is that ND’s objections had prevented ESR from convening.

It is these issues that the government is attempting to address in the amendment which it hopes to bring to Parliament today. If all goes as planned, ESR should be able to convene by next Monday, paving the way for a solution to be found to the TV license fiasco.

The gaffe came as leftist SYRIZA is trailing ND by quite a distance in the polls. The government has been keen to revamp its cabinet in a bid to give it a new lease on life.

Sources said on Wednesday that a reshuffle could come as early as next week. Documents leaked to the media over the past few days indicated that officials have prepared presidential decrees that would overhaul the current structure of ministries, merging some and separating others.

Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili did not confirm that such plans were afoot. However, it is expected that the reshuffle, when it comes, will be substantial. Key ministers involved in talks with Greece’s creditors such as Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and Labor Minister Giorgos Katrougalos are expected to keep their posts.

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