Hospital workers in Greece were set to strike on Wednesday of next week. Days earlier Tory Makis Voridis, a former Nazi, was named minister of health. Just two years ago he was head of the fascist Laos party.
Makis was photographed in the 1980s holding an axe chasing left wing and anarchist militants. There were also set to be media strikes and protests this week in support of workers from the ERT public television station this week.
The protests mark one year since the government tried to close it. A year of resistance means the closure has yet to be fully implemented.
Cleaners from the Ministry of Finance led a mass demonstration in Athens against public sector job cuts on Thursday of last week.
And on Friday anti-racists rallied outside the court in Patras, western Greece. The trial of three foremen and a farm owner over the shooting of migrant strawberry pickers last year was finally getting underway.
This is the backdrop to this week’s cabinet reshuffle, triggered by a disastrous election for both parties remaining in the coalition government. Tory prime minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy was beaten into second place by radical left party Syriza.
The junior coalition partner Pasok, once Greece’s main centre left party, did even worse.
Standing in disguise as the Olive Tree Party couldn’t save it from falling to just 8 percent of the vote—behind the Nazi Golden Dawn. Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos faced calls to resign.
Inside both Pasok and Dimar, which walked out of the coalition last year, many are keen to ditch the Tories. They want to position themselves to take part in a future government led by Syriza.
New Democracy meanwhile is torn between its centre right and far right wings.
Samaras has used the promise of staying in government to try and hold the coalition together. But the prospect of losing the government has brought threats of splits to the fore—something the wide-ranging reshuffle was designed to address.
The government survives with a majority of just two MPs. It has deep cuts planned, and will be expected to make more in return for a third bailout.
Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos was allowed to make his first public appearance last week since being jailed nine months ago.
He was there to be stripped of his immunity from prosecution, pending trial over his role in planning violent attacks against immigrants and the left.
New evidence of Golden Dawn MPs taking part in racist violence in 2011 came to light this week.
Samaras has tried to present his government as taking action against the Nazis. He has come under pressure following protests and strikes last year after the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas.
But he also faces anger over Golden Dawn’s links with leading Tories and other establishment figures, and the racist policies that have helped it to grow.