By Christos Tsigouris
The countdown to the cabinet reshuffle has started, with most sources indicating that it will occur by 20 August, the day Greece officially exits the bailout memorandum.
With the reshuffle, Alexis Tsipras will attempt to close the process of attributing responsibility for the wildfire tragedy. He also wants to shield himself and his closest associates from harsh criticism of their inability to handle crises.
The decision to keep Panos Skourletis as interior minister was reflected in the PM’s decision to also give him the responsibilities of the public order minister, for as long as it takes Tsipras to make his reshuffle choices, and in the visit to the interior ministry, to reorganise the structure of the General Secretariat of Civil Protection.
Domino of changes
By all accounts, Nikos Kotzias will stay on as foreign minister, since the Greece-FYROM naming accord is expected to wrap up in early 2019. There are also ongoing issues such as talks to resolve disputes with Albania, and the dialogue regarding the Cyprus problem. It is unclear if Kotzias will be on SYRIZA’s statewide ticket (drafted by the party leader) in the next elections, or whether he will seeks election in a particular district with the popular vote.
By most accounts, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos will stay on in his post, as his departure would startle partners and lenders, who view him as a reliable and trustworthy interlocutor.
It is unclear what will happen with the defence ministry, as it is the first time that the transfer (by mutual agreement) of SYRIZA’s junior partner, Panos Kammenos, to another important ministry, is not unlikely.
If Kammenos takes another ministry, it is expected that he will be replaced by Alternate Defence Minister Fotis Kouvelis.
The overall aim of the reshuffle is to provide the government with an air of renewal, after the recent tragedy, and to signal a shift to the political left through the choices in the reshuffle.
Many believe that the PM will offer ministerial posts to fresh cadres with no governmental experience, as he has done in the past.
It is unclear what the prime minister’s intentions are in filling the post of Citizens’ Protection Minister, after the resignation of Nikos Toskas, and if the portfolio will be given to a SYRIZA stalwart.