Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Syriza appoints government dominated by leftists

Greece's new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, on Tuesday announced a cabinet made up predominantly of leftists, with a series of academics in key posts. 

Athens University economist Yanis Varoufakis will assume the sensitive finance portfolio. Until now the finance minister has also led Greece's negotiations with creditors, though it was widely expected that a significant role will also be played by Yannis Dragasakis, the economist who will serve as Tsipras' economics advisor and deputy prime minister. 

University of Crete economist Yiorgos Stathakis will assume the development ministry, which is now to include the ministries of the merchant marine, tourism and infrastructure, concentrating many of the portfolios governing productive sectors of the economy.

The University of Peiraieus political scientist Nikos Kotzias is to assume the foreign affairs portfolio. With the exception of Varoufakis, the other three are dyed-in-the-wool leftists whose affiliations go back to the Greek Communist Party.

Tsipras heads the first left wing government in Greece's history, dominated by his Radical Left Coalition party, Syriza. The party won 36.3 percent of the popular vote in Sunday's election, unseating a socialist-conservative coalition. It commands a 162-seat majority in the 300-seat parliament in coalition with the right-wing Independent Greeks party.

Other traditional leftists assuming portfolios are Panos Skourletis (labour), Nikos Voutsis (interior), environment and energy (Panayotis Lafazanis), Aristeidis Baltas (education and culture) and Panayotis Kouroumplis (health and social security). Tsipras' chief of staff Nikos Pappas is to assume a ministry without portfolio. The defence ministry is to go to Tsipras' coalition partner, Panos Kammenos, leader of the right-wing Independent Greeks.

Tsipras telescoped 18 ministries into ten, boosting the portfolios of development, education, under larger administrative clusters. 

1. Finance Ministry (as is). 
2. Development ministry (to include the ministries of the Merchant Marine, Tourism and Infrastructure).
3. Interior Ministry (to include the ministries of Administrative Reform, Public Order and Macedonia & Thrace). 
4. Environment and Energy Ministry (to include also the Agriculture Ministry and general secretariat of Industry).
5. Education and Culture ministries to be combined into one.
6. Health Ministry to absorb social security.
7. Labour Ministry.
8. Defence.
9. Foreign Affairs.
10. Justice, Transparency and Human Rights.

The Greek ten-year bond was trading at higher interest rates on Tuesday at 9.36 percent, compared to 9.09 percent on Monday and 8.41 percent two days before Sunday's election. 

Tsipras was sworn in on Monday afternoon. 

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