Greece's prime minister tweaks his government to focus on cost of living and labor

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweaked his Cabinet on Friday with a focus on cost-of-living and labor policies after his center-right party’s victory in Europe’s parliamentary elections.

Despite a recent dip in inflation, polls consistently show most Greeks’ top concern is cost of living since the pandemic and Russia’s war on Ukraine contributed to rising prices in the southern European country.

Takis Theodorikakos, 59, who previously held the interior and public order portfolios, will head the development ministry that’s largely responsible for supervising consumer prices.

Mitsotakis’ New Democracy party easily came first in the June 9 European parliamentary elections, gaining 28.3% of the vote — nearly twice the left-wing main opposition Syriza party’s 14.9%.

Even though that expanded ND’s lead over Syriza in the previous European elections, it was seen as a lackluster showing for the governing party, which slid nearly five percentage points compared to its 2019 showing. Turnout was low, with nearly 6 in 10 voters abstaining, and fringe right-wing parties posted gains.

Mitsotakis also replaced his ministers for labor, the interior, and agriculture, and appointed former Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos to replace Migration Minister Dimitris Kairidis. Greece is a key entry point for thousands of migrants seeking a better life in the European Union. Most arrive in small boats from Turkey, but arrivals have decreased in recent years.

The key finance, foreign affairs and defense portfolios remained unchanged.

Mitsotakis swept to power in 2019, following more than four years of government by Syriza during the country’s financial crisis, and was reelected in a landslide victory in summer 2023.

The new ministers will be formally sworn in later Friday, and the first Cabinet meeting will be held Saturday.

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