SPECULATION about the line-up of President Anastasiades’ new cabinet has already begun. Two members of the Council of Ministers – Ioannis Kasoulides and Giorgos Pamborides – have already made clear their intention to step down so there will be at least two posts to fill. There will probably be more than two new faces brought in after Anastasiades said he planned to form a government from a wide political spectrum and with more female ministers.
We can only guess that this wide spectrum means that not all ministers will be Disy members. Does this mean there will be one or two Diko rebels appointed ministers as a reward for undermining their party leader during the campaign? According to reports, the president planned to appoint people not linked to any party but whether they will be from such a wide range is another matter.
One thing is certain, the education minister will be chosen by Archbishop Chrysostomos, even though he knows next to nothing about education matters. He would not have publicly supported Anastasiades’ candidacy a few days before the run-off election, if he had not received an assurance that this backward practice will be preserved. If Chrysostomos is happy with Costas Kadis, he will be kept in his post so he can carry running state education according to the diktats of the teaching unions and the church.
A bigger problem could be posed by Harris Georgiades’ decision to leave the finance ministry that he conveyed to Anastasiades at a meeting on Wednesday morning. Georgiades has sought to move to the foreign ministry, but Anastasiades appears to have decided to give this to his government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides, who – like most foreign ministry employees – belongs to the hard-line camp on the Cyprus problem. This appointment would be a clear indication of the president’s intentions regarding the Cyprus problem.
Although nobody is irreplaceable, Georgiades’ departure from the finance ministry might send out negative signals as he personally is credited with the recovery of the economy and the return to a path of growth. His departure could be interpreted as a lack of faith in the economy’s medium-term prospects despite the positive forecasts for this year. Why would the finance minister want to leave his post against the president’s wishes if the economy continues to grow and flourish? If he was moved to the foreign ministry his departure would be seen differently than if he left the cabinet, which seems to be what will happen.
The speculation is set to continue, but Anastasiades will have to think hard how he will manage Georgiades’ departure to ensure against any damage being done to the economy.