>Greece’s cabinet reshuffle: Papandreou plays to his party

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PRIME ministers rejig their cabinets for various reasons: to breathe fresh life into reform efforts, to reward favoured ministers and punish others, to send voters or markets a signal of intent. Greece’s cabinet reshuffle, announced—much to the dismay of journalists—a little before 2 this morning, was not (primarily) about any of the above.

George Papandreou (pictured), the country’s stoic prime minister, has not only moved jobs around, he has restructured his government. Portfolios have been shifted, chunks of policy have been sliced off and become independent ministries, more than a few departments have been renamed. Mr Papandreou has also expanded his cabinet by 12, making it a populous 49-member affair.

Yannis Ragoussis, a close ally of the prime minister, takes on the job of government co-ordination, perhaps the second most taxing position in the Greek cabinet after the finance and economy minister. That role stays in the hands of George Papaconstantinou, who has navigated with poise one of the least enviable political jobs in the world throughout Greece’s economic crisis, earning the trust of European and IMF figures along the way.

Louka Katseli, previously in charge of competitiveness, development and shipping, has been demoted to labour minister after an uninspiring stint. Michalis Chrisochoidis, until yesterday interior minister with a good record in dealing with terrorism and public order, will take over parts of Ms Katseli’s portfolio and will be charged with spearheading the country’s return to economic growth.

But the most telling new additions are two old party foes of Mr Papandreou’s. Kostas Skandalidis, an old hand who once ran against the prime minister for the leadership of their Pasok party, takes charge of agriculture, while Milena Apostolaki, once persona non grata in the prime minister’s circle, will be Mr Skandalidis’s deputy.

With international markets watching Greece’s exercises in fiscal prudence closely, the business of government in Athens has become a highly uncreative affair: most of it is written down in a memorandum co-signed by Papandreou and the EU/IMF/European Central Bank troika when Greece agreed its €110 billion ($140 billion) bail-out package in May.

Pasok’s popularity has nonetheless suffered as the economy deteriorates, underscored by an annualised 3.5% contraction in GDP in the second quarter of this year and an unemployment rate of 11.7%. A late August poll saw the government’s approval ratings slip under 30%, though it remains comfortably ahead of the conservative New Democracy party.

What on a first reading may look like a radical overhaul of government may in fact have more to do with the internal politics of Pasok. With further drastic reforms on their way, Mr Papandreou may feel he needs to convince his own ranks more than public opinion. His priority for the coming months looks set to be a consolidation of party unity, with the aim of ensuring that his agenda enjoys solid support. What better way to achieve that than giving everyone with a grudge a job in government?

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Demetrios Georgalas (A Surviving Globalization Consultant) was born in 1961 in Bern and grew up in Athens. In1985, graduated from Surrey University with a Tourism Management BSc (Hons). In 1998, graduated from LMTB under Freie Universitat Berlin, with a Diploma Lasers in Medicine. His professional career was started in the private sector and at the same time he created his first consulting company D+G Consultants Inc. Worked for major multinationals in Greece and abroad (FMCGs / Pharmaceuticals / Tourism). Demetrios Georgalas, having established also Travelling 2 Greece a destination management company, while with the D+G Consultants working in the areas of BTL and special marketing projects. He is activated except from Greece in the Balkans and in Turkey, consulting his clientele with new innovative proposals. Apart from his enterprising activities, he dabbles at blogging, travelling and cooking while he is married and has two children. In conclusion Demetrios Georgalas is an Athenian, Greek, Agnostic, Traveller, & Liberal he likes sci-fi, photography, blogging, travelling and cooking and if you like fascism or any kind of dogma, keep out! Δημήτρης Κ. Γεωργαλάς Γεννήθηκε στην Αθήνα το 1961, σπούδασε Τουριστική Διαχείριση στο Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο και κατέχει μεταπτυχιακό τίτλο στην Βιοτεχνολογία. Έχει εργαστεί σε μεγάλα τουριστικά γραφεία του εσωτερικού, και σε πολυεθνικές σε Ελλάδα και Εξωτερικό, στο χώρο των φαρμάκων, των ιατρικών μηχανημάτων και των FMCG’s. Από το 2001 είναι ελεύθερος επαγγελματίας, με δραστηριότητα στην διαχείριση προορισμού, τον θεματικό τουρισμό και τις ειδικές ενέργειες marketing. Είναι παντρεμένος και πατέρας δυο παιδιών, διδάσκει ειδικά θέματα εξωτερικού εμπορίου και κοινωνικής δικτύωσης, σε επιχειρήσεις και οργανισμούς. Ασχολείται ενεργά με το διαδίκτυο από το 1993 με άμεση εμπλοκή στα κοινωνικά δίκτυα και στο «ιστολογείν». Φανατικός ταξιδευτής, ερασιτέχνης φωτογράφος, μαχόμενος αγνωστικός και φιλελεύθερος. Όραμά του μια Ευρωπαϊκή Ελλάδα. https://brexians.wordpress.com
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