Government reshuffle on cards to drive reforms

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President Nicos Anastasiades is preparing for a mini-reshuffle of his Cabinet to seek a government of wider appeal in the wake of public anger over corruption scandals and the need to execute reforms.

Anastasiades said he would be summoning political party leaders next week to discuss the possibility of establishing a more representative government following the results of May’s parliamentary elections.

According to media reports, Anastasiades had been mulling a reshuffle for some time but waited until after the elections to gauge public sentiment.

“The aim of talks will not be to distribute and sinecures, but to see how we can reach convergences on the Recovery and Resilience Plan to attain the goals concerning the youth, the Cyprus of tomorrow,” said Anastasiades on Tuesday.

When asked which ministers will be leaving their posts, President Anastasiades said: “When and if I decide, I shall make announcements.”

He said the underlying motive for a reshuffle is to get majority backing in parliament to approve justice, digital, green reforms the administration will introduce until 2023.

However, the likelihood of convincing opposition parties to join the government seems highly unlikely.

Opposition parties AKEL, DIKO and the Greens have been openly called for Anastasiades to resign over the golden passports fiasco or differences on the Cyprus problem.

The spectre of a Cabinet reshuffle loomed when earlier in the week, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou told CyBC that he would be stepping down soon.

“The main goal of pushing through President Anastasiades’ commitment to bringing the General Health System to life has been achieved,” said Ioannou, who also had to manage the island’s worst health crisis.

Ioannou has indicated he wishes to leave the ministry and politics in general, with reports indicating he had twice asked the President to let him walk away.

His professional experience is in hospitality and management, and he is the owner of the Gloria Jeans franchise in Cyprus.

Daily Politis said Ioannou’s successor could be outgoing House Speaker Adamos Adamou, a member of main opposition AKEL, although that might prove a tough nut to crack.

Appointing Adamou would fit Anastasiades’ plans for a government of broader acceptance, but it is highly improbable that AKEL would let Adamou join the administration.

Adamou, a doctor by profession, steps down as House President on Thursday, as he did not claim re-election in May.

Also rumoured to be on their way out are government spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos, Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou and Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis.

Prodromou and Yiolitis are perceived as unpopular ministers.

Prodromou has fractured relations with teacher unions and was severely criticised for his poor handling of schools during the coronavirus crisis.

Yiolitis was rebuked for trying to close a Twitter parody account which led to police raiding a woman’s home raid where a computer and phone were confiscated.

Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris, and Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou are among the Cabinet ‘untouchables’.