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Greece: Waiting for a reshuffle

A cabinet reshuffle appears quite likely and could happen anytime after Monday, when Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis returns from the US, where he went with his daughter, a Freshman at Yale.

Minister and ruling New Democracy lawmakers have been expecting a reshuffle ever since Mitsotakis, in a press conference during the disastrous wilfires that struck Greece earlier this month, said that “responsibilities, to the extent they can be personalized, will be assigned at the right moment, not during the battle.”

Two subsequent statements government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou alluded to possible changes in the government.

Everything seems to point out to the changes being made before Mitsotakis delivers the keynote speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on September 11. This is the forum where prime ministers have traditionally outlined the coming year’s policy priorities.

But Mitsotakis also has a busy schedule until then: on Tuesday, he will chair a cabinet meeting, followed by a trip to Slovenia later that day to take part in the Bled Strategic Forum. On Wednesday, he will be in Thessaloniki for meetings ahead of the TIF and on Thursday he will fly to Marseille for a Friday forum on biodiversity in the Mediterranean. There are several possibilities: Tuesday’s cabinet meeting could feature some new faces, if Mitsotakis has already made up its mind; the reshuffle could alsotake place either before his trip toThessaloniki or after he returns from Marseille.

It is unlikely the reshuffle will be extensive: first, Mitsotakis prefers small corrective changes as he has done in the past; second, massive changes are bad PR because they signal widespread failure; third, there is a sense in the Prime Minister’s office that, despite mistakes in dealing with fires, the pandemic and some communication slips,the government has successfully faced difficult challenges. But pundits are focusing on the Citizen Protection and Health ministries.

There might be significant changes at the deputy minister level; New Democracy lawmakers and party insiders are clamoring for no more openings to former socialist moderniozers and that the PM should look toward his own ranks for new blood. If this does happen, expect several MPs to enter government.

Another option, uyilized by Mitsotakis in the past, is to turn to technocrats and upgrade general secretaries of ministries to the ministerial level. To him, the government’s operation is paramount.