Embattled finance minister keeps post in Greece reshuffle

Greece’s Socialist government retained its finance minister in a cabinet reshuffle announced early today but changed other key officials involved in the effort to reform the country’s troubled economy.

Under the changes announced early this morning, George Papaconstantinou remains finance minister, but the ministers of development, labour and health were replaced.

Greece’s governing Socialists face regional elections in November, testing tolerance for harsh austerity measures required to receive up to €110bn in international bailout loans over three years.

Ministries related to the economy or facing major reforms are subjected to frequent inspections by budget enforcers from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Prime Minister George Papandreou, elected last October as the country descended into financial crisis, also created an investment ministry to be headed by a close aide, and switched several junior portfolios between ministries.

The changes were seen as boosting the role of the finance ministry’s control over economic reforms.

Several older party members who served in previous Socialist governments returned to the Cabinet in an apparent effort to woo traditional party supporters who are less likely to back the economic austerity.

The new government will be sworn in later today.

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