Sioufas seen in coordinating role

Saturday’s meeting of New Democracy’s Central Committee was calm. Everyone complied with ND leader Costas Karamanlis’s informal directive of putting an immediate stop to the «introversion» of the previous days that was prompted by talk of government-party relations and public relations policy, and they avoided making any statements that might provoke tension. In private conversations, however, there was evident concern about specific weaknesses in the exercise of power, with most agreeing that better government-party coordination and two-way communication need attention as a matter of priority. The issue appears to be on Karamanlis’s mind. Over the past week he has received reports suggesting the formation of a coordinating body or finding someone to exercise the duties hitherto performed by State Minister Theodoros Roussopoulos. Sources say the premier does not agree with critics of Roussopoulos who deem him unable to fill the role, while acknowledging that there is a need to boost coordination. By general consent, the only person suited to the role of coordinator is Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, but there are two obstacles. Sioufas does not want to relinquish his current post before implementing the policies he has formulated, and replacing him would inevitably entail a Cabinet shuffle, unless he assumes the role informally. Despite anything said to the contrary, the prime minister has not ruled out such a surprise.