Tsipras sacks party rebels in Greek cabinet reshuffle

Prime minister moves to shore up support with removal of left-wing deputies

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras leaving Maximos Mansion in Athens on Friday. He left his main economic ministries unchanged in the reshuffle.  Photograph: Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras leaving Maximos Mansion in Athens on Friday. He left his main economic ministries unchanged in the reshuffle. Photograph: Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg

 

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras sacked left-wing energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and two deputy ministers on Friday as he reshuffled his cabinet following a party revolt against the tough new bailout deal adopted this week.

Mr Tsipras moved to clear out the rebels after 39 Syriza hardline lawmakers refused to back the government over the measures, which were demanded by European partners as a precondition for beginning talks over a new bailout.

The main economic ministries remain unchanged, with Euclid Tsakalotos remaining in place at the finance ministry and George Stathakis staying at the economy ministry.

But labour minister Panos Skourletis, one of Mr Tsipras’s closest allies, will replace Mr Lafazanis in the key energy portfolio, where he will be responsible for sensitive privatisation dossiers. Administrative reforms minister George Katrougalos will take over at the labour ministry.

The reshuffle had been expected ever since the party rebellion left Mr Tsipras dependent on the votes of pro-European opposition parties to pass the bailout deal but it is not likely to change the uncertain overall outlook for the government.

Alongside Mr Lafazanis, leader of Syriza’s Left Platform, a faction that was bitterly opposed to the bailout, deputy labour minister Dimtris Stratoulis and deputy defence minister Costas Isychos also lost their jobs.

Mr Stratoulis was replaced by Pavlos Chaikalis, a former comic actor from Syriza’s right-wing coalition partners, the Independent Greeks, in a slightly reworked portfolio.

Former deputy finance minister Nadia Valavani, another bailout opponent who resigned earlier this week before the vote, was replaced by Tryfon Alexiadis, a leading member of Greece’s tax experts’ union.

Christoforos Vernardakis, an academic, will become deputy defence minister, while Syriza lawmaker Olga Gerovasili was named government spokeswoman.

The new ministers are expected to be sworn in on Saturday.

Mr Tsipras has ruled out immediate early elections before a bailout deal is actually agreed, but interior minister Nikos Voutsis said this week that elections may come in September or October. – (Reuters)