Alternate Foreign Minister Yorgos Katrougalos was promoted to the post of Foreign Minister in a cabinet reshuffle that was announced today and former Pasok MPs were appointed to cabinet posts as part of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ strategy to dominate the centre-left part of the political spectrum by forging a broad progressive front.
Katrougalos succeeded Tsipras who had assumed the foreign affairs portfolio after Nikos Kotzias resigned in October so that he could personally shepherd the Greece-North Macedonia (then FYROM) Prespa Agreement and the Nato Protocol admitting North Macedonia to the Alliance through Parliament.
Former alternate education minister and SYRIZA veteran Sia Anagnostopoulou was tapped to replace Katrougalos as Alternate Foreign Minister.
The limited reshuffle was necessitated by the departure from the cabinet of two ministers who will be candidates in May’s municipal elections.
Ex-deputy labour minister Nasos Iliopoulos is running in the Athens Mayoral race and former Macedonia-Thrace minister Katerina Notopoulou is SYRIZA’s candidate for the mayoralty of Thessaloniki.
Tsipras chose to tap τwo politicians from SYRIZA’s younger generation who are considered to be absolutely loyal to him to replace the two departing ministers, who are also up-and-coming younger members of SYRIZA.
Iliopoulos was succeeded by 38-year-old MP Konstantinos Barkas, a journalist for the SYRIZA party organ Avgi and a frequent panelist and ardent supporter of SYRIZA on television talk shows.
Notopoulou was replaced by 40-year-old Thessaloniki native Eleftheria Hatzigeorgiou, a personal friend and member of Tsipras’ inner circle who until now was serving as director of the office of government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos. She accompanied Tsipras to Mati on a visit after the disastrous wildfire that claimed 100 lives,
An activist and member of the movement against home foreclousres, Hatzigeorgiou canvassed all of Thessaloniki before the January, 2015 general election and distributed fliers with slogans such as “Hope is coming”.
Limited reshuffle to lure centre-left voters
Sources say that the PM did not opt for a sweeping reshuffle so as not to signal that the previous cabinet was unsuccessful but also so as not to give the impression that he is already entering the final stretch brefore the general election.
Tsipras tapped two Pasok cadres who had served as ministers in the government of George Papandreou as part of his attempt to attract centre-left voters who by and large are former Pasok supporters who have migrated to SYRIZA.
Thanos Moraitis had served first as deputy environment minister and later deputy economy minister under Papandreou and now has been appointed deputy Infrastructure and Transport Minister by the PM. His new boss, minister Christos Spirtzis, is also a former Pasok cadre.
Moraitis was an extremely close associate of the Pasok-centred Movement for Change leader Fofi Gennimata but left the party in December blasting Gennimata’s policy choices in a letter. At the time he said that he would not be a candidate in the next general election and was critical of Gennimata for having as he believed betrayed Pasok’s progressive, centre-left tradition in a conservative shift. He maintained that Gennimata’s choices blew out the water efforts to unite the centre-left in a broad front.
Tsipras’ new deputy migration minister, Angelos Tolkas, had served as Papandreou’s deputy state minister.
Outrage in Movement for Change
The Movement for Change lashed out against both Tsipras and the perceived Pasok turncoats.
“Mr. Tsipras’ efforts to pillage our party are doomed to failure, as it is degenerating into a third-rank team, but nothing can save them,” the party said in a statement.