ATHENS Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sacked left-wing Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and two deputy ministers on Friday as he reshuffled his cabinet following a party revolt against a tough new bailout deal adopted this week.
The 40 year-old prime minister moved to clear out the rebels after 39 Syriza hardline lawmakers refused to back the government over the measures, which were demanded by European partners as a pre-condition for beginning talks over a new bailout.
The main economic ministries remain unchanged, with Euclid Tsakalotos remaining in place at the finance ministry and George Stathakis staying at the economy ministry.
But Labor Minister Panos Skourletis, one of Tsipras' closest allies, will replace Lafazanis in the key energy portfolio, where he will be responsible for sensitive privatization dossiers. Administrative Reforms Minister George Katrougalos will take over at the labor ministry.
The reshuffle had been expected ever since the party rebellion left Tsipras dependent on the votes of pro-European opposition parties to pass the bailout deal but it is not likely to change the uncertain overall outlook for the government.
Alongside Lafazanis, leader of Syriza's Left Platform, a faction that was bitterly opposed to the bailout, Deputy Labor Minister Dimtris Stratoulis and Deputy Defense Minister Costas Isychos also lost their jobs.
Stratoulis was replaced by Pavlos Chaikalis, a former comic actor from Syriza's right-wing coalition partners, the Independent Greeks, in a slightly reworked portfolio.
Former Deputy Finance Minister Nadia Valavani, another bailout opponent who resigned earlier this week before the vote, was replaced by Tryfon Alexiadis, a leading member of Greece's tax experts' union.
Christoforos Vernardakis, an academic, will become deputy defense minister, while Syriza lawmaker Olga Gerovasili was named government spokeswoman.
The new ministers are expected to be sworn in on Saturday.
Tsipras has ruled out immediate early elections before a bailout deal is actually agreed, but Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis said this week that elections may come in September or October.
The reshuffle came on the same day German lawmakers gave the go ahead for the euro zone to negotiate a third bailout for Greece.
The reform package, including pension adjustments, value-added tax hikes, an overhaul of collective-bargaining rules and tight limits on public spending, was approved with 229 votes in the 300-seat chamber in the early hours of Thursday.
(Additional reporting by Michele Kambas, Lefteris Papadimas, Lefteris Karagiannopoulos; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Hugh Lawson)