The meaning of the Cabinet reshuffle

The reshuffle carried out by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday cannot easily be described as heralding in a new beginning for the government but can only be judged after a few months have passed. Nevertheless, a simple scan of the Cabinet’s new composition leads to several conclusions about the political thinking behind the reshuffle. First of all, it is clear that Karamanlis wanted to send a clear message to the European Union, but also to the domestic market, that Greece’s economic policy would not change this year but that, on the contrary, efforts would be made to «homogenize» it; this intention was made clear by the fact that Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and his deputies stayed put, no major changes were made in the Development and Public Works ministries, while the Labor Ministry post went to Savvas Tsitouridis, a trusted aide of the PM. It is also clear that Karamanlis wanted to use the reshuffle as a means of facilitating his movements in a political environment that has been burdened by the phone-tapping scandal. But it is the transfer of Giorgos Voulgarakis to the Culture Ministry and the appointment of experienced ND campaigner Vyron Polydoras as public order minister that will help the government manage political exchanges with PASOK, as the opposition will be unable to call Polydoras on previous statements. Finally, Dora Bakoyannis’s assumption of the Foreign Affairs portfolio is expected to lend our country an image of more active diplomacy and might cancel out the only advantage PASOK chief George Papandreou had enjoyed until now, a sense of ease on the international stage.

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