Syriza heading for split as parliament discusses bailout

Syriza heading for split as parliament discusses bailout

Athens, August 14, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Zacharias Petrou

Greek lawmakers met to discuss the country’s bailout agreement worth EUR 86 billion in loans sponsored by the European Stability Mechanism.

Parliament finally began debating at 02:00 AM whether to accept the bailout deal and the Memorandum of Understanding that accompanies it which contains an extensive list of austerity measures, structural reforms and privatizations that Greece must implement in the next three years.

The expected approval of the latest bailout – with the votes of the opposition – will come at considerable cost to the governing coalition of left-wing Syriza and right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) as well as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

The number of Syriza MPs who are expected to break ranks with the government could be larger than the last vote in Parliament. Analysts consider a split of Syriza certain with approximately 40 rebel MPs breaking away to form an anti-austerity political group.

Former Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis, who leads Syriza’s radical Left Platform –a Eurosceptic faction which strongly opposes the bailout – announced Thursday that he will create a new political movement.

In a written statement signed by Lafazanis and 11 other Syriza members, the rebels called for the founding of a “united movement that will justify people’s desire for democracy and social justice.”

The signatories argue that by agreeing to a new loan deal with the Eurozone and the International Monetary Fund, the government is going against the will of the majority of Greeks who voted against austerity in the July 5 referendum.

Earlier on Thursday government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili acknowledged there would be a parliamentary rebellion and signaled that the government would struggle if Syriza remained divided.

“It is known that some Syriza MPs will not vote in favor of the accord,” she told Mega TV. “A government that does not have a governing majority cannot go far” Gerovasili added.

Minister of State Alekos Flabouraris also warned that if fewer than 120 MPs from the ruling Syriza/Independent Greeks coalition vote for the omnibus bill ratifying the third bailout deal with the creditors, new elections would have to be called.

No matter how the Prime Minister choses to deal with the political crisis in Greece, attention is still very much on getting the bailout approved an in place before August 20 when Greece must make a debt repayment to the European Central Bank.

The new bailout law will be put to the meeting of Eurogroup finance ministers which is set for Friday. This is crucial meeting as Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has not given up on his idea of a temporary Grexit – and other countries could follow and support him.

The German side appears to be pushing for Greece to be handed another bridge-loan instead of a full bailout package. Germany’s finance ministry even outlined its objections to the Greek bailout in a paper circulated to eurozone counterparts.

If all goes well at the Eurogroup It will then be brought to several national parliaments (including the German Bundestag) for ratification.