Change in premier’s lineup

Contrary to previous denials, Prime Minister George Papandreou looks set to conduct a substantial Cabinet reshuffle over the next few days, which will also lead to the way his own office works being radically transformed, possibly into a similar setup to that at the White House. Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said yesterday that there would be imminent «structural changes» to the way that the government works. He added that a study by five Papandreou-appointed foreign advisers on how his office would function best is «under review.» It is thought the experts have recommended Papandreou form a tight-knit group of trusted ministers and advisers with whom he will meet regularly to discuss policy decisions, much like the way the president of the USA works with the White House staff. Petalotis, however, refused to give details of what the proposals entail. But it seems almost certain that Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis will play a key role in this decision-making team. Others who are likely to be included are Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou, Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos and Transport Minister Dimitris Reppas. Sources close to Papandreou said that whatever form his Cabinet council is to take, it will not interfere with the role of Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos, who has the task of overseeing ministers’ efficiency. The change in the organization of the prime minister’s office seems likely to coincide with a reshuffle that will be much more thorough than the government has publicly implied so far. Contrary to previous statements, Petalotis indicated that it will not just be ministers who are to stand for local office in the November 7 municipal polls that will be replaced. «If there are ministers or deputy ministers who are to take part in the local elections, of course they will be replaced,» he said. «But beyond that, we are studying in depth the structure and operation of a Cabinet system that is more productive, effective and modern.»