Since the beginning of the financial crisis ministerial resignations have dogged Greek politics, and the trend looks set to continue.
Despite the coalition government winning a vote of confidence Deputy Labour Minister Nikos Nikolopoulos has resigned, primarily in response to the way in which they have approached bailout talks. Kavala MP Nikos Panagiotopoulos was speedily named as his replacement. Nikolopoulos resignation is the third to have occurred since Antonis Samaras became Prime Minister a mere twenty days ago. He follows Vassilis Rapanos, who resigned as finance minister on 25 June, and Deputy Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Vernikos.
Nikolopoulos decision was based on the disappointment he felt over the turn taken in negotiations with international lenders. Although he expressed respect and gratitude towards Samaras, Nikolopoulos argued that he hadn’t adopted a firm enough stance over the Troika’s expectations of Greek financial targets.
Below is an extract from Nikolopoulos letter of resignation:
‘Immediately after the government received the vote of confidence, I submitted my resignation from my post as Deputy Minister of Labour, Social Security and Welfare, in a letter to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
I want to clarify that the only reason behind my resignation is my personal belief that the issue of renegotiating with the Troika and the correction of significant labor, pension, insurance and welfare issues should have been emphatically placed on the table at the start of the discussion […] because I personally find it impossible to be inconsistent with my beliefs and what I stood by as labor spokesman for New Democracy, I choose to step back from this government, not wishing to create internal problems at the very start of its run.
[…] I remain within New Democracy, a simple foot soldier serving my patriotic duty and will continue to support the government and the Prime Minister personally, in these hard times.
I wish to offer my heartfelt thanks to the staff of the Labour Ministry and the heads of departments for our short but fruitful cooperation.
But above all, I must honor and thank Antonis Samaras, for inducting me in this government structure and I hope that he will make us all proud […]’
Nikolopoulos’ hope is no doubt one which will be harboured by many.