New system or chaos

The new Cabinet is what one would expect from George Papandreou: It is imaginative, risky and unconventional. We will soon find out whether it is also an effective Cabinet. For the time being, we can only hazard a first assessment until the team has been put to the test. The Socialist leader saw no need to make use of PASOK’s more experienced heavyweights. Instead, most of the key portfolios went to Papandreou’s close aides, often upsetting the power balance inside his party. In some ways the situation is similar to that of 1981 when late Premier Andreas Papandreou took on an army of unknowns with no administrative skills. The difference is that the new ministers do not have a plebeian background like most PASOK officials 28 years ago. Naming Pavlos Geroulanos to the Culture and Tourism Ministry dismayed some who, perhaps, had stronger claim to that spot. On the other hand, there is not much that can be said on this since culture in Greece has for decades been shaped by the Geroulanos family. The stubborn practice of associating culture with the left (even New Democracy could not kick the habit) is no more. The new minister has no need of informal cultural guides, like some of his predecessors did. A closed family dinner is enough to decide the country’s cultural agenda. Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas is a different case. Papandreou, of course, will be foreign minister while Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos will assume some international missions. Droutsas has been a close Papandreou aide for a decade, so no one should be surprised now. Sure, some diplomats were annoyed to see Droutsas’s assignment but, as foreign minister, Papandreou always depended more on advisers than ministry officials. None of the above guarantees the effectiveness of the new Cabinet. However, by sticking to family tradition Papandreou is acting unconventionally. Time will show if he will create a new system or chaos. But Papandreou has already shown himself to be a risky politician.