Cabinet reshuffle: Ability, ethos, more women
A cabinet reshuffle is only a matter of time. It does not matter much whether it will be sweeping or limited to “corrective moves,” but any decisions will have substantial value, aimed at improving performance and achieving better results.
It is reasonable and unsurprising that there would be changes. Much more so considering that the prime minister has decided not to resort to snap polls – rightly so, in this author's view – as the country does not need such uncertainty in the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis.
After a year in office, there is ample evidence to evaluate the ability, ethos and efficiency of the current cabinet. At the same time, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – who is personally credited with the landslide victory in last July’s national election – has no need to satisfy any factions and is free to make his choices undisturbed.
This was the case with the president of the republic and most would agree that his choice was excellent. The symbolism of the first female president – who was also the first female head of the country’s highest court – has been vindicated and strengthened by the low-key demeanor Katerina Sakellaropoulou.
As for the people who will leave and those who will join the government, obviously the prime minister is listening to suggestions and assessing the performance of his current cabinet members. Some ministers are too busy posing in the press and social media when what is needed is work, not self-promotion.
The moral dimension must also play a role. Sure, nobody is perfect, but a basic ethos must also be a key factor, especially in such difficult economic times. This becomes even more important for both substantive and symbolic reasons, when a minister, like any government official, is in charge of a portfolio that is carefully monitored by foreign actors – countries, institutions and organizations – who may participate in the financing of specific projects. It is indeed a fact that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and it applies to all governments, in all countries.
The reshuffle is also an opportunity for the prime minister to correct the mistake of having a very small number of women in the original cabinet, which he has acknowledged publicly. He has already taken a big step in the right direction with the selection of Sakellaropoulou.
The new faces that will be selected must show that they understand the problems and listen to the fears and anxieties of a society which, after many years of deep economic crisis, is again facing the unknown and is understandably worried.
At the same time, they must be people with strong skills and morals, determined to do the right thing without caring about the political cost. They cannot be confrontational and must have the ability to build broader consensus because that’s the best way to solve problems, not just in the short term, but in the long run.
They should also exhibit the knowledge necessary for the portfolio they will be selected to manage, something that has not always been the case over the past decade.