Greek Cabinet Shake-up Shakes Bloggers

The partially new Cabinet gets sworn in, religiously
The partially new Cabinet gets sworn in, religiously

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras reshuffled his cabinet for the second time in two years, naming a new finance minister, as he closed Parliament early for the summer break.

Economics professor and banker Gikas Hardouvelis will be the new Finance Minister, replacing Yannis Stournaras, who negotiated Greece’s increasingly tougher line toward the Troika – the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank. Stournaras has been nominated to become governor of the Bank of Greece.

The cabinet reshuffle will give a new boost to the difficult job before the government, said Antonis Klapsis, head of research for the Konstantinos Karamanlis Institute for Democracy in Athens.

“Parliament is not actually shutting down. It only adopts a summer program splitting in three so that MPs can take some time off. The reaction has been much fuss about nothing,” Klapsis told SETimes.

But many in the blogosphere say the early release will stifle debate about how economic reforms and further austerity are conducted.

A key challenge for Hardouvelis will be to handle politically sensitive issues such as the second reform of the pension system due later this year, according to blogger Macropolis.

“It is questionable, though, how much room for manoeuvre Hardouvelis will have given that Greece remains under strict fiscal monitoring and its public revenue and spending targets are more or less fixed. This makes his role in the negotiations with the eurozone for further debt relief due to take place after the summer even more significant,” Macropolis said.

Other bloggers said the government reshuffle is tantamount to playing political musical chairs while at the same time parliament shutdown stifles the debate on the government’s goals and policies.

The news as to why the Parliament closed is totally incomprehensible to us, said hellasfrappe. “We are overwhelmed with anger and disgust.”

Still others suggested Samaras’ moves are political in nature, and are a reflection of the results of the local and EU parliament elections as well as the rise of the opposition SYRIZA party.

Samaras’ New Democracy party came second to SYRIZA in the elections for EU parliament on May 25th. “Samaras is speaking about his new government goals — ‘to exit the loan agreements’ — and blamed the ‘faint-hearted’ and ‘misery-supporting’ Greeks [of SYRIZA] for not believing that Greece is exiting the memorandums of understanding,” keeptalkinggreece said.

Samaras reshuffled the government in order to find a successor for Stournaras that will do a better job of balancing the finance ministry’s role with that of the government’s political interests, he said.

But people are right to criticize the Parliament shutdown because such an approach may lead to losing trust in the political system, said Alex Sakellariou, a sociologist at Panteion University in Athens.

“The government wants to shut down parts of public sector and fire people, people in the private sector are also fired and this new [government] synthesis has five or six additional members. It seems quite contradictory,” Sakellariou told SETimes.

(Used by permission of Southeast European Times, www.setimes.com)


  • Arthur Vandelay

    Greece needs to pay close attention to what is happening in Argentina

  • TRB

    A government shake-up is not fruitful unless changes are implemented…By changing Ministers doesn’t mean anything…

  • Neyzan

    This article ommits something that can hardly be seen as a coincidence:
    The parliament closed it’s winter session early (much earlier than usual) on the same day (June 4th) that the parliament received an order from the courts to investigate the co-involvement of ex-minister of Defence E.Venizelos (now leader of PASOK) and ex-minister of Finance G.Papakonstantinou (also of PASOK) in the scandal of the submarines and Skaramangas Shipping Yard. According to greek law (this specific one drafted by the same E.Venizelos) all criminal action against members of the previous government (2009) has lapsed after the close of this session. In effect the court order is moot, as they cannot be held accountable any more.
    http://tvxs.gr/news/ellada/dikografia-stin-boyli-gia-eythynes-benizeloy-papakonstantinoy-gia-ta-ypobryxia (in Greek)
    Moreover, on June 19th the minister of Justice Ch.Athanasiou stated at the commitee of Public Order that the court order arrived June 2nd or 3rd, but recanted later on, after receiving an SMS that stated that there had been a mix-up in the dates and the correct date is June 4th. The source of the SMS was not revealed. The same minister also stated that he had received the court order on May 5th and forwarded it to the parliament on May 30th, without knowing it’s contents.
    http://tvxs.gr/news/ellada/athanasioy-i-dikografia-gia-ta-ypobryxia-irthe-sti-boyli-2-i-3-ioynioy (in Greek)
    Finally, even more suspicions are raised by the fact that the (detained) leader of the nazi party Golden Dawn N.Michaloliakos in his speech at the parliamentary discussion about the withdrawal of his MP immunity revealed that the winter session would be closing at June 4th, a fact that until then wasn’t even known by all the MP’s of the government parties. Also, both he and his “second in command” Ch.Pappas mentioned “secret meetings” with G.Mouroutis and two other ministers.
    http://tvxs.gr/news/ellada/mono-oi-xrysaygites-boyleytes-gnorizan-pos-tha-kleisei-i-boyli (in Greek)

  • TRB

    A government shake-up is not fruitful unless changes are implemented…By changing Ministers doesn’t mean anything…