Sunday

17th Feb 2019

Who's in the new Greek cabinet?

  • How the cabinet manages to stay unified remains to be seen (Photo: Gerard McGovern)

All eyes are on Greece after the radical left-wing Syriza shocked the European establishment by taking power from the previous centre-right austerity-supporting government.

Two seats short of an absolute majority, Syriza rapidly formed a coalition with the right-wing, populist, and anti-austerity party, the Independent Greeks.

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This will give the new government a broad mandate to counter the austerity programme of the troika of international lenders (the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund).

However, the new cabinet contains very wide-ranging ideologies and traditions, which will affect how the government is able to negotiate with Brussels and Berlin.

Below is a breakdown of some of its most important members.

Prime minister - Alexis Tsipras

The 40 year-old charismatic leader of Syriza is credited with bringing opposing factions within the party together and making it a credible force in Greek politics.

His origins are in Synaspismou, the largest party of the Syriza coalition, and he has spent recent years touring Europe and the US in an attempt to warm foreign leaders to the prospect of his premiership.

Vice president - Giannis Dragasakis

Dragasakis takes the number two post in the cabinet with his main competency being the economy. He is an economist and one of the founding members of Syriza. His origins are in the Greek communist party (KKE).

Minister of finance - Yanis Varoufakis

Yanis Varoufakis received his doctorate at the University of Essex and has worked as a lecturer in the UK, US, Australia and Greece.

Well-respected as an economist - he describes himself a "libertarian Marxist" - he has written several books on economic recovery and regularly appears as a pundit on international news channels.

The dual Greek-Australian citizen is seen as a pragmatic choice for the role of finance minister, aimed at calming financial concerns in Brussels and Berlin. He is known for being outspoken, referring to the austerity Greece has had to endure as “fiscal waterboarding".

Minister of foreign affairs - Nikos Kotzias

A pro-European and German-friendly choice, Kotzias has a doctorate from Germany on "European Completion".

He has lectured at Harvard, Oxford, and Marburg. Until 2008 he was working as an ambassador to the ministry of foreign affairs with Pasok (the centre-left social-democratic party). He was imprisoned twice during the military dictatorship (1967-1974).

The choice of a very pro-European for this post is a highly symbolic message to Brussels.

Deputy minister of foreign affairs - Nadia Valavani

Valavani was prominent in the resistance against the military dictatorship and was imprisoned and tortured at the time making her a hero of the resistance among the left. She is a translator and is more eurosceptic than Kotzias.

Deputy minister of European affairs Nikoloas Chountis

A former Syriza member of the European Parliament who was vocally anti-euro and eurosceptic. His position has become slightly more pro-European during his stint in Strasbourg.

Deputy minister of financial foreign affairs - Euclidis Tsakalotos

Born in Rotterdam and raised in London, he is one of the main economic thinkers within Syriza.

Seen as slightly radical but from a middle class background, he was tipped to head the ministry of economy. Instead will be in charge of renegotiating the terms of the Memorandum and Greek debt.

Minister of health and social solidarity - Panagiotis Kourouplis

Blind from the age of of ten, very popular with non Syriza members and a former member of the left wing of Pasok. A lawyer who was politically active since 1974 and served as minister of health between 1993 and 1996.

He voted in favour of the first memorandum in 2009 but abstained on extending the memorandum in 2011 and became independent and then joined Syriza shortly after in 2012. He is seen as both a moderate and populist.

Minister of productive reconstruction, environment and energy - Panagiotis Lafazanis

A leader of the Left Platform, the communist opposition within Syriza. He is an important appointment for the far-left and anti-EU wing of the party. He is against the common currency.

Deputy minister of environment and climate change - Giannis Tsironis

A chemistry professor and founding member of the Green party back in 1983. His party has since joined the Syriza coalition, making up the environmentalist side of the party.

Minister of defence - Panos Kammenos

A former member of the right wing of New Democracy, who left to form the Independent Greeks.

The Independent Greeks were very keen on this post, having featured defence strongly in their manifesto. In the past Syriza have been keen on a Greek withdrawal from Nato, this aim will certainly be mitigated with the appointment of Kammenos.

The ministry of defence is seen as one of the more corrupt arms of the government, one former Pasok defence minister is in jail on corruption charges.

Minister of justice - Nikos Paraskevopoulos

A famous academic and Dean of the faculty of Law, Economic and Political Science at Athens University. He was a mediator during the prisoner riots of the 1990s and a vocal supporter of criminal law reform.

Deputy minister for justice, transparency, and human rights - Panagiotis Nikoloudis

A lawyer who studied corruption, money laundering and organised crime in the US.

In 2011 he was appointed president of the independent Anti-Corruption and Anti-Money Laundering Commission. A clear signal to both the Greek public and Brussels that the new government intends to address the systemic corruption in Greece.

Deputy minister for tourism – Elena Koudoura

A former model, long jump athlete and publicist of Vogue magazine from the Independent Greeks. She was a former New Democracy MP. Her portfolio will cover one of the most vital areas to the Greek economy.

The government only contains one minister from the Independant Greeks and only four substitute or deputy ministers, softening the anti-European stance of the smaller party.

There are four eurosceptic Syriza members within the cabinet, but Tsipras has placed well respected and pragmatic voices within all economic and foreign relations posts emphasising the Greek's desire to work within the existing European and financial systems.

How the cabinet manages to stay unified with such a divergence of opinion and which ideas will triumph remains to be seen. For Greece and for Europe, this is uncharted territory.

EU hints at more time, but no Greek write-offs

EU finance chiefs have hinted Greece might get more time to repay debts but refused to budge on the new Greek government’s demands to write-off part of its burden.

Tsipras sworn in as Greek PM

Hours after bringing his far-left Syriza party to election victory, Tsipras has shown he's prepared to play hardball by teaming up with a right-wing anti-austerity party.

Greece flip-flops on troika talks

Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has denied previous statements that Greece will no longer deal with the troika of international creditors following icy talks with the head of the Eurogroup.

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