Comments made during the handover ceremonies on Monday that followed last Friday’s cabinet reshuffle highlighted growing divisions within the government, as several outgoing ministers publicly expressed dismay and outright opposition to their removal from the posts.
The most pronounced of these public reactions came from outgoing education minister Nikos Filis who questioned Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s decision, saying during the handover to his successor, Costas Gavroglou, that he had never received any criticism that his work at the ministry was inadequate.On the contrary, he said, he had received top grades from the PM at the beginning of the school year, but it wasn’t long before he was flunked.
Given Filis’s importance within ruling SYRIZA, his decision to make his disagreements public could be a harbinger of trouble to come for Tsipras, who has struggled to keep the lid on dissenters within the party who claim he has veered away from its principles. And this dissent can only grow as analysts say it is certain that Filis will not keep criticism to himself if he disagrees with government actions and policies.
But Filis is not alone, as outgoing energy minister Panos Skourletis showed similar signs of defiance, making it clear he will continue to oppose the sale of a 17 percent stake in the Greek Power Corporation, which is apparently why he lost his job.
Outgoing merchant marine minister Thodoris Dristas also expressed disappointment, saying his departure from the ministry was not “voluntary.”
Resentment, however, was not confined to SYRIZA ministers, as outgoing deputy infrastructure minister Maria Chrysoveloni, of junior coalition partner ANEL, took aim at party leader Panos Kammenos for not having informed her of the decision to remove her from the government.
Speaking to his new cabinet on Sunday, Tsipras, for his part, insisted that luring investments to Greece is his government’s top priority and stressed that for this reason it is imperative to wrap up the second review of the country’s third bailout.
New Finance Minister Dimitris Papadimitriou, who is also responsible for investment, sought to renounce statements he made in the past, regarding the creation of a parallel currency to the euro.
“This is not an alternative solution for the government. This is clear,” he said, adding that he made his comments in his capacity as an academic. “Academics say a lot of things. Now I have undertaken a new role.”