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Europe

Greek prime minister shuffles cabinet

Prime Minister George Papandreau of Greece reshuffled his cabinet on Tuesday to speed up an economic recovery and appease public opinion after a debt crisis nearly drove the country into bankruptcy.

Symbolic life ring and euro coin superimposed over Greek flag

The gloom of austerity remains, despite the cabinet shuffle

Less than a year after taking office and only months after a massive EU/IMF bailout, Papandreou switched several ministers around in an effort to improve the performance of ministries dealing with the country's fiscal crisis.

However, the expanded government, which now has 48 cabinet members instead of 36, will retain Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and stay the course on a package of austerity measures designed to pull Greece out of its fiscal doldrums.

The European Union and International Monetary Fund cobbled together a 110-billion-euro ($140-billion) rescue package for Greece after Athens was pushed to the brink of default earlier this year.

In exchange for the bailout, the Greek government agreed to sweeping economic reforms, draconian spending cuts and tax increases, which sparked protests across the country.

The cabinet reshuffle is meant to boost key economic and social policy areas which are seen as lagging behind, and to appease a public angry about the tough austerity measures.

Papandreou has been criticized for taking too long to announce his spending cuts, and is now anxious to placate voters with municipal elections coming up in early November and the belt-tightening policies beginning to take hold.

Author: Gregg Benzow (AFP/Reuters)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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