Economy Minister Dimitris Papadimitriou resigns

Economy Minister Dimitris Papadimitriou resigns

Economy Minister Dimitris Papadimitriou has resigned hours after his wife, Alternate Minister for Social Solidarity Rania Antonopoulou, stepped down on Monday afternoon following revelations that she received 23,000 euros in state rent subsidies for an apartment in the chic Athens neighborhood of Kolonaki.

Papadimitriou, whose remit involved promoting Greece abroad for investment projects, submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday night “for reasons of political sensitivity,” an economy ministry official told Reuters.

Tsipras accepted the resignation and thanked Papadimitriou for his services, a statement from the Prime Minister’s office said.

The two resignations have given rise to speculation of a cabinet reshuffle given that Papadimitriou is the third government official to step down after the resignation of his wife and that of Deputy Education Minister Costas Zouraris in January.

There have also been reports that Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas may be replaced due to health reasons.

Papadimitriou’s decision to step down was, like his wife’s, prompted by reactions to an article on Friday in Eleftheros Typos newspaper, which revealed that Antonopoulou had been receiving 1,000 euros per month from the state as a rent subsidy for her apartment. She received the subsidy legally but there was public outrage that a minister, whose income declarations point to considerable personal wealth, should receive such benefits.

With the coalition’s back against the wall over the ensuing outcry, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos told Real FM on Monday that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had spoken to Antonopoulou, telling her it was “not right” that she had exploited the subsidy in question and that she had been asked to make a statement on the matter.

For her part, Antonopoulou said she had not intended to provoke public sentiment but had been entitled to the allowance and had applied for it, receiving 23,000 euros over two years. She said she would return the money to state coffers. The government announced her resignation later Monday.

Opposition New Democracy chief Kyriakos Mitsotakis denounced the government, saying it took “three whole days of intense reaction” before Tsipras demanded her resignation.

He also criticized SYRIZA for passing the law in 2015 that allowed “Antonopoulou and her husband to claim the subsidy while the country was sinking.” 

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