New Greek cabinet sworn in after elections

A new, smaller Greek cabinet was sworn in on Wednesday after the conservative New Democracy party narrowly won a second term in power in recent elections.

New Greek cabinet sworn in after elections
A new, smaller Greek cabinet was sworn in on Wednesday after the conservative New Democracy party narrowly won a second term in power in recent elections.

The conservatives returned to power under the leadership of Costas Karamanlis, 52, following elections on September 16, but with considerably fewer seats in the 300-seat parliament.

The cabinet, streamlined from 19 to 17 ministers, were formally sworn in by President Carolos Papoulias at the presidential mansion and immediately convened for their first meeting.

Dora Bakoyanni remained in her post as Greece's foreign minister in the newly re-elected conservative government, indicating that securing better relations with Turkey was high on the agenda.

Other ministers which remained in the new government include George Alogoskoufis at the Finance Ministry, Evangelos Meimarakis at the Defence Ministry, Prokopis Pavlopoulos at the Interior Ministry and Theodoros Rousopoulos at the Ministry of State and Press.

Newcomers to the cabinet include the ministries of development, merchant marine, culture, education and transport.

Since his landslide victory in 2004, which ended 11 years of continuous Socialist rule, Karamanlis saw his representation in parliament drop by 13 seats to 152 seats, instead of the 165 he won in previous elections.

Fewer seats will make it harder for the next government to carry out austere economic and education reforms, which analysts say are necessary to move the country, the Eurozone's second poorest member, forward.

One of the most immediate tasks facing the newly elected government is to overhaul the pension system, which risks going bankrupt within 20 years due to an ageing population as well as to complete state privatizations.

Greece's per capita gross domestic product is the second lowest in the Eurozone after Portugal, and nearly 20 per cent of Greeks live below the poverty line.

Karamanlis has been applauded by the European Union for cutting deficits below the 3-per-cent limit and creating thousands of jobs, but the unemployment rate still hovers above the EU average.

DPA
Last Mod: 19 Eylül 2007, 16:29
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