Cassandra on the reshuffle

Whichever way we choose to view the prime minister’s statement following the passing by Parliament of yet another multi-bill, we must agree with him on the following: “Despite the Cassandras who spoke of a dysfunctional government, the government has emerged more united than ever from the vote,” Antonis Samaras said on Sunday night.

Indeed, the draft bill submitted by the tripartite bloc – which appeared nothing like a united bloc in the days prior to the bill’s submission – succeeded in getting 168 votes of support after winning over two renegades from ruling New Democracy, Costas Markopoulos and Theodoros Soldatos. The omnibus bill also got the vote of Andreas Loverdos and Christos Aidonis of the rather motionless new “movement” dubbed Pact for a New Greece.

The truth is that if Samaras (or his junior coalition partner Fotis Kouvelis of Democratic Left) had any concerns regarding the strength and unity of his government, he would have made sure to address Parliament himself and rally the troops. Instead, he left the task to Makis Voridis of ND and PASOK’s Evangelos Venizelos.

However, as we know from Homer, Cassandra always prophesied the future. But she had been cursed by the lovelorn Apollo, whose advances she had turned down, and was never believed. In the case of the tripartite coalition government, the Cassandras are speaking the truth, and Samaras himself is admitting it: Yes, there are dysfunctions, clashes, rivalries, opposing party proclivities and all sorts of problems that are inevitable on a ship that is being steered in three different directions.

The passions that rule the coalition government may have subsided for Easter, but come the end of the holidays and the re-emergence of talk about a reshuffle and they are sure to flare up once more.

The real question, therefore, is whether a shake-up will do the trick. Judging by some of the names that have been whispered, it seems unlikely. If the government’s problem is that Voridis, Adonis Georgiadis and Kyriakos Mitsotakis of New Democracy, Fofi Gennimata of PASOK and Grigoris Psarianos of Democratic Left do not have a cabinet post and if it is believed that these are the people to put a new wind in the coalition’s sails so that the ship that is Greece can better navigate the troika-infested waters, then, yes, Samaras is quite right in saying that the government as it is right now is solid. If, on the other hand, the entire issue is about giving Venizelos a ministry once more, then we must admit that even the Cassandras are unable to predict the worst.