Greek PM Antonis Samaras Sworn In, Cabinet To Be Announced Soon
Greece has a new government as the leaders of the New Democracy, PASOK, and smaller Democratic Left agreed to support in the parliament a coalition capable of taking the country out of the crisis it is in. The new prime minister sworn in on Wednesday is New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, whose allies from PASOK and Democratic Left refused to allow any member of the parliament from their parties to participate in the government, motivating that it is not appropriate for socialist parties to participate in a conservative government.
Antonis Samaras is expected to announce his ministers amid speculations about his government’s capacity to last and tackle the difficult problems of the country. Vassilis Rapanos, the chairman of the National Bank of Greece, is expected to become the minister of finance.
BBC reports that Angela Merkel has reportedly congratulated Samaras and announced that she was looking forward to working with him. The eurozone ministers are expected to discuss the situation of Greece in Luxembourg, where they are expected to convene.
Antonis Samaras is expected to announce the rest of the cabinet after a renewed meeting with the leader of PASOK, Evangilos Venizelos, and the one of the Democratic Left, Fotis Kouvelis.
The cabinet is expected to have 16 ministers and 12 deputy ministers, significantly shrunk as compared to the 49-member government of his predecessor. Two new ministers are being created out of the development ministry, the tourism and merchant marine ministries, in an attempt to take advantage of the two main sources of income for the country.
The people in the streets of Athens, who spoke to the international media, manifested their conviction that unless the old politicians made room for new ones, who had never been involved in the political decision-making. The disbelief of the Greeks in their politicians is no different from the skepticism of the East European nations in the neighborhood, fed up with a society dominated by corruption which the people in these countries blame on political decision-making.
BBC reports that Greece will be represented by the eurozone meeting in Luxembourg by outgoing finance minister George Zanias, as the new finance minister is not expected to be sworn in until Saturday.
Greece is expected to be told by the members of the eurozone that it must apply new salary cuts or tax raises, or face paying themselves salaries. Greece has already received 110 billion euros from the European Union-International Monetary Fund in 2010, and is expected to receive other 130 billion this year. 107 billion in debt have already been written off by investors.
The new government comes at the end of a second round of elections held in June, won by a narrow victory by the New Democracy party, with the leftist Syriza coming second and the smaller leftist party Democratic Left in the third place.
The coalition reunites the two parties which negotiated with the European partners: the New Democracy, which scored 79 seats and received 50 as bonus for coming first; PASOK, which scored 33 seats, less then the 41 scored on May 6, on the occasion of the first parliamentary elections; Democratic Left, which scored 17 seats, two less than the score in May.
The radical leftist Syriza, which opposed the austerity measures and announced that it would no longer respect the agreement with Europe, came second, with 71 seats, 19 more than the score in May. Syriza refused to cut any deal with the parties that collaborated with the western countries.
The 300-member parliament of Greece needs 151 seats for a majority to be created. The new coalition has 179 but its chances to succeed are not as strong as the number of seats may indicate.11