The newly formed Cabinet yesterday clearly tried to convey the impression of being in a state of intense mobilization. Let’s hope that this was not an ephemeral communication trick but a sign that the prime minister and government ministers have, finally, realized that although they are midway through their term, results are still scarce. Of course, no genuine political changeover has taken place – as an uninformed person might conclude, misled by numerous triumphant headlines – but rather a mere reshuffle that has itself been largely based on the recycling of the same faces. We are thus witnessing an attempt by the same party to improve the country’s governance – with the advantages and disadvantages that this entails. In his speech to the new Cabinet yesterday, the prime minister hinted at the problems that the government has to transcend: You are not only ministers who are in charge of their ministries, but also ministers of a government which promotes its work in a collective fashion, Simitis said in his address to the ministers and deputy ministers, hinting at the blatant lack of coordination between PASOK ministers – the top ones in particular – who have until now autonomously set their aims and priorities. I am addressing the ministers asking them to show confidence in their deputies and devolve substantial responsibilities to them in the division of competencies, Simitis said, thereby touching upon the fact that several Socialist figures have tended to undermine each other. As with the congress, in the government shakeup Simitis managed to make an impression. He also removed party dissenters from all crucial posts so that he has unlimited room for maneuver, not just the initiative. The new government lineup fully reflects his preferences. However, the time that Simitis has at his disposal has been halved while the challenges have remained in place. The unfavorable global situation has added to the various delays. Simitis has to make a super-effort in order to catch up. He is, at any rate, responsible for the performance of the governments he led over the last six years and not just the new one. Hence, he now has to prove that he possesses the qualities of a political sprinter who must cover the distance of the remaining term at the speed of Olympic gold medalist Costas Kenteris.

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