Movers and Shakers | Government edition

Keep track of developments in European governments with a special edition of our movers and shakers column.

By Ifigenia Balkoura

02 May 2016

As April was full of national government developments and numerous shake-ups across the member states, Movers and Shakers brings you a special edition dedicated to these. First up, Belgian transport minister Jacqueline Galant stepped down following revelations she was aware of an EU report on security flaws in Brussels airport security before the 22 March bombings that killed 32 people. François Bellot succeeds her in the role.

Shocking results in Austria, after the far-right Freedom party’s Norbert Hofer won the most votes in the first round of the presidential elections. Social Democrats and Conservatives candidates, who since 1951 had occupied the ceremonial role, garnered around 11 per cent of the vote each. Prior to this,

Johanna Mikl-Leitner stepped down as interior minister to become Deputy Governor of her home state, Lower Austria province. She switched roles with Wolfgang Sobotka, who took on his new post on 21 April. Mikl-Leitner is also known for her hard line on migration and border controls. 

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Independent Tomas Žilinskas was appointed as Lithuania’s new interior minister. His predecessor, Saulius Skvernelis, was removed from the post after announcing that he will be running for the upcoming parliamentary elections in October with the Peasant and Green Union. 

Sweden’s housing minister, Mehmet Kaplan of Turkish origins from the Green Party, resigned on 18 April after comparing Israel to the Nazis. Photos of Kaplan with Turkish ultranationalists during a dinner in July 2015 were published.  

Romania’s technocratic government saw two of its ministers stepping aside. First was the minister of labour, family, social protection and elderly Claudia-Ana Costea, who resigned over a legislative proposal on public sector salaries. The minister for the EU finds, Aura Răducu, also left his post, at the request of Prime Minister and ex-Commissioner Dacian Cioloş. The removal of Răducu was triggered by the dissatisfaction on achieving short term objectives. 

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Southern Europe is also getting in on the action. Spanish minister for industry Jose Manuel Soria, a member of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s party, resigned over alleged links to off-shore deals revealed by the Panama Papers. King Felipe VI announced that the last bid to form a government since December’s inconclusive elections after coalition talks failed for third time. Fresh election will be held likely in June.

In Portugal, Castro Mendes became the new minister for culture, after João Soares resigned after he suggested two journalists needed a good slap. Prime Minister Antonio Costa apologised publicly on behalf of his cabinet.

In other member states news, still no government in Ireland, while the Maltese government survived a confidence vote brought on by the Panama Papers scandal, which revealed that the minister of energy and health, Konrad Mizzi, owned companies overseas. The newly formed Slovak government also won a vote of confidence and is expected to be sworn in shortly but both incumbent Prime Minister Robert Fico and the parliament speaker are both in hospital. Slovakia will be holding the next EU rotating presidency in June.

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Read the most recent articles written by Ifigenia Balkoura - Movers and Shakers | 26 November 2018

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