ATHENS, Greece (AP) — New Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is set to announce his cabinet Thursday, a day after brokering a three-party governing coalition that ends weeks of political deadlock.
The conservative Samaras was sworn in Wednesday, pledging to restore hope to a country battered by a protracted debt crisis that has forced across-the-board cuts in incomes and public services. Greeks are also struggling to cope with soaring unemployment and a deep recession now in its fifth year.
Samaras met earlier Thursday with the heads of his two minority coalition partners — Evangelos Venizelos from Socialist PASOK and the smaller Democratic Left's Fotis Kouvelis — to thrash out the final details of the government's policy platform.
Prominent banker Vassilis Rapanos, who is tipped to assume the finance portfolio, took part in the meeting. He is a non-executive chairman of the National Bank of Greece.
The new cabinet will be sworn in later Thursday except for the new finance minister, so caretaker Finance Minister Giorgos Zanias can represent Greece at Thursday's meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Luxembourg.
All three coalition parties have promised to broadly respect Greece's pledges to undertake further harsh austerity measures and reforms, conditions demanded by European partners and the International Monetary Fund in return for more bailout loans.
That commitment, and the formation of a government in a country that had been politically paralyzed since first inconclusive elections on May 6, has relieved international markets. Many in Greece and abroad had feared an electoral win by anti-austerity parties could have prompted a disastrous confrontation with Greece's creditors, ended the flow of bailout funds and eventually forced the country out of the 17-member eurozone.
"I am optimistic and I think (Samaras) will lift the country out of the deadlock we've been in for the last two years," said Athens retired business manager Apostolos Athineos. "And I think this will be his only chance."
Kyriakos Tzaferos, an out-of-work civil engineer now working as a real estate agent, said the government deal could help restore market stability.
"Probably the economy will try to pick up again and some money will be pumped into the market," he said. "Otherwise, if there's no money in the economy, there's going to be no improvement into what you get in your pocket at the end of the day."
Salaries have been deeply cut over the past two-and-a-half years in the shrinking private job market and the large civil service — although civil servants have been spared from the layoffs that have left more than one in five Greek workers jobless. Pensions have dwindled and taxes repeatedly hiked, although constant pledges to overhaul an inefficient tax system that primarily targets salaried employees and pensioners have failed to deliver.
Greek stocks were marginally higher in mid-afternoon trading Thursday, with the general price index up 0.48 percent. Greek shares have lost more than half their value over the past year.
Efty Katsareas in Athens contributed.
- Politics & Government