Samaras's Partners Shy Away from New Cabinet of Greece

World | June 21, 2012, Thursday // 17:05
Bulgaria: Samaras's Partners Shy Away from New Cabinet of Greece Distribution of the seats in the Greek Parliament after the June 17 elections. Graph by the BBC

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has announced his new cabinet, which is dominated by MPs from his conservative New Democracy party.

Vassilis Rapanos, the chairman of the National Bank of Greece, has been given the key post of Finance Minister of Greece, the BBC reported.

The socialist Pasok and Democratic Left parties have only two party officials in the cabinet, but have barred their MPs from taking part. It is believed they may not want to be associated with austerity measures.

The BBC's Mark Lowen in Athens says the decision of New Democracy's coalition partners not to participate fully in the cabinet does not bode well for the effectiveness of the new government.

The new Greek Finance Minister Rapanos, 65, is a former economics professor who served in the economy ministry when Greece joined the euro in 2001. Some reports suggest he is seen as being close to Pasok.

New Democracy's deputy leader Dimitris Avramopoulos has taken the post of Foreign Minister of Greece.

One of the sticking points in forming the government has been the composition of the cabinet, the BBC says. Some former Pasok ministers wanted key posts but the party leader decided that none of his MPs should take cabinet positions.

The third coalition member, Democratic Left, also kept its MPs out to avoid association with unpopular austerity measures to come. It does not bode well for the future strength and solidarity of the coalition, the BBC analysis says.

But Greek government sources say all three parties have signed an agreement to support the coalition fully, even without representation in cabinet.

The first test comes on Thursday at a euro zone finance ministers' meeting in Luxembourg, when Greece will request that some bailout terms be renegotiated. That may receive a cool response from EU members wary of letting Greece deviate from cost-cutting. But if Athens fails to win significant concessions in the weeks ahead, it would be a major blow for the government, prematurely ending any honeymoon period.

Greece got an initial EU-IMF package worth EUR 110 B in 2010, then a follow-up this year worth EUR 130 B.

It has also had EUR 107 B of debt, held by private investors, written off.

Greece's second bailout is "totally off track, months behind schedule", Thomas Wieser, head of the key Euro Working Group, told AFP.

Either you "stick to the fiscal targets and then you need additional measures" from Greece, he said, or you change deadlines, in which case "you need extra money".

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Tags: greece, Greeks, Antonis Samaras, PASOK, New Democracy, Democratic Left, bailout
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