Reshuffle options for PM

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis appears to be split between the ideas of either sticking with a core of ministers in an imminent reshuffle or making sweeping changes that could convince voters he is intent on starting afresh, sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini. The reshuffle is expected to take place in the next few days. Sources said that one scenario would see Karamanlis retaining his biggest hitters. Giorgos Alogoskoufis would remain as Economy and Finance Minister, Dora Bakoyannis as Foreign Minister, Evangelos Meimarakis in Defense, Prokopis Pavlopoulos would stay at the Interior Ministry, Giorgos Souflias would continue as Public Works and Environment Minister and Costis Hatzidakis would keep hold of his place at the Transport Ministry to tie up the Olympic Airlines sell-off. According to this scenario, the prime minister would be in for the long haul and would be unlikely to call elections before 2010. Keeping some key posts unchanged would also avoid injecting uncertainty into the government at a time when it faces a range of tricky problems. For example, the premier could opt to keep Alogoskoufis if he deems him to be a safe pair of hands to deal with the economic turbulence, which many expect to get worse in Greece this year. The other option being pondered by the premier is to go for a much more radical reshuffle that would see some of the old guard removed or moved to other posts. In this case, Alogoskoufis could become Foreign Minister and Bakoyannis could take over his post or become defense minister, while Meimarakis could be shunted across to the Interior Ministry. Some members of the government prefer a more thorough reshuffle as they believe this will make it easier for the conservatives to convince voters that they have learned from their mistakes and are determined to make positive changes. Among those being tipped for a comeback to government are former foreign minister Antonis Samaras, former education minister Marietta Giannakou and former employment minister Panos Panayiotopoulos.

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