OPINION

Editorial

Even though more than five years have passed since Costas Simitis was elected prime minister, it is the first time that the government lineup bears his own personal mark. It is a fact that as of 1996, each time Simitis formed a government, he has also made a step in the direction he, himself, has chosen. He first named MPs who belong to the so-called reformists to the majority of deputy minister positions. He then removed party dissenters from the government and rather promoted his close aides, giving them important portfolios; Nikos Christodoulakis and Christos Verelis are indicative of this trend. Now, after receiving a clear and strong mandate at the Socialist Party Congress, Simitis formed a government based on his own preferences. He cleverly avoided consulting with top Socialist officials and seeking to maintain some equilibrium within the party, like he has in the past. He clearly thinks that after his solid re-election 10 days ago there is no danger of party disagreements being expressed in the form of rifts or disputes. The fact that the new government makeup bears the exclusive mark of the prime minister allows him to reinforce his administrative role for the improved coordination of government efforts. On the other hand, however, he is now exclusively responsible for government performance. Simitis can no longer invoke the excuse of being held hostage to the party balance of power. Simitis carefully distributed the portfolios and did not try to make an impression. A sweeping reshuffle, meaning the replacement of top government officials by new figures, would not only cause party backlash but would also undermine government performance. For this reason, Simitis finally chose a combination of the transfer of top officials, the promotion of new ones who had performed well in the previous period, and extensive replacement at the deputy level. Initial judgment of the new government synthesis is a positive one. However, governments are, as always, judged by their deeds and not by first impressions. And the new government and the prime minister himself will be judged by this criteria. What is called for is effectiveness in tackling the country’s problems as well as improved government performance.