Pressure mounting for reshuffle after ministerial resignations
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to proceed with a mini-reshuffle in the coming days after losing two ministers from his government in as many days.
Speculation about changes in the cabinet was fueled on Monday night after the resignation of Economy Minister Dimitris Papadimitriou on grounds of “political sensitivity,” after his wife, Alternate Minister for Social Solidarity Rania Antonopoulou, was forced to step down following revelations she received rent subsidies from the state. Deputy Education Minister Costas Zouraris resigned in January.
Aides to Tsipras say a reshuffle would be a limited one, in order to avoid any dissent within the government, whose main focus is to keep Greece on track to exit the bailout program in August.
Tsipras is expected to replace Papadimitriou with someone who is up to speed on Greece’s negotiations with its international creditors – possibly Alternate Economy Minister Alexis Haritsis or Dimitris Liakos, a close aide to the premier.
According to sources, Papadimitriou was considered a pivotal player in the negotiations with regard to the prior actions that Greece must implement as part of the fourth bailout review as well as in the post-bailout era.
However, Tsipras is not expected to fill Antonopoulou’s post nor that of Zouraris.
A replacement is however expected for Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas, who is stepping down due to illness.
Meanwhile, opposition New Democracy submitted a proposal to Parliament on Tuesday for the formation of an investigative committee to conduct a preliminary inquiry into whether former health ministers Panayiotis Kouroublis and Andreas Xanthos, as well as Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis, are guilty of breaches of faith, regarding medical costs and medicine pricing in 2015 and 2016.
Pressure mounted further on Tuesday when media reports said another three ministers also applied for the rent subsidy – Alternate Minister for Research Constantinos Fotakis, former deputy foreign minister Dimitris Mardas and former deputy infrastructure minister Panayiotis Sgouridis.
In a separate development on Tuesday, independent lawmaker Katerina Markou joined New Democracy, increasing its presence in Greece's 300-seat Parliament to 76.