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New finance minister named in bid to reassure public and Socialists

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2011-06-18

Socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou has named Evangelos Venizelos the new finance minister in order to pull Greece back from an economic abyss. His goal will be to reassure the public and convince Socialists to support new austerity plans.

Will he be up to the task? Evangelos Venizelos, age 54, was appointed finance minister on Friday and will face the challenge of managing the deep financial crisis Greece finds itself in.

Venizelos, a constitutional law professor and prolific author from Thessaloniki, started out in politics as a member of parliament for his native city. He has been defence minister since 2009; he will replace outgoing Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou as part of Prime Minister George Papandreou’s cabinet reshuffle.

Reaction to Greek debt crisis

Prior to being defence minister, Venizelos held various high-level posts in Socialist governments, such as government spokesperson, minister of justice, and minister for development. His economic and fiscal policy positions, however, remain largely unknown.

Venizelos was Papandreou’s rival in the race to lead PASOK, Greece’s socialist party, after the party’s second consecutive electoral defeat in 2007.

His nomination is intended to reassure both the public and politicians in the party that oppose new austerity measures. On Wednesday, Greece was gripped by its third general strike since the beginning of the year, as demonstrators took to the street to protest against the austerity measures. Venizelos’s predecessor, Papaconstantinou, oversaw the prior austerity plan, and will now become minister for the environment.

Papandreou is counting on his cabinet reshuffle to deliver him the parliamentary majority he will need to pass the next phase of 28-billion-euro austerity package. The adoption of the package is the condition set forth by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund for the next phase of the €110 billion international aid plan for Greece.

Date created : 2011-06-17

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