Greece’s struggling coalition government took further blows on Thursday as its majority shrank to two seats after as it pushing through the latest round of EU-mandated reforms.
One Syriza MP, Stathis Panagoulis, who abstained from the vote in protest and who was later expelled from the party, said, “my patience has run its course.”
He was joined in the political wilderness by Nikos Nikolopoulos, a member of the Independent Greeks party Anel, junior partner to Syriza in the ruling coalition.
The expulsions follow on the resignation of one of Prime Minister Tsipras’ once-close allied, Gavriel Sakellarides, who said earlier on Thursday that he could “no longer contribute to the realisation of the government’s polices.”
Mr. Tsipras’ government has faced strong opposition in passing through the reforms required to unlock foreign funds, both within and outside of the party.
After months of talks with its partners, the country was forced to accept harsh terms for an €86bn bailout, allowing it to stay afloat and within the Eurozone.
Of particular concern are demands by foreign creditors that the government take tougher action against mortgage defaulters, including the seizure of homes and other property.
The passing of the bill on Thursday unlocks €2bn of these funds, which the Greek government has pledged to put toward relief measures, protecting about a quarter of homeowners in poor financial positions from foreclosure.
It is expected that a further €10bn will be released when Eurozone finance officials meet on Friday, funds essential to the recapitalization of Greek banks and to the recovery of the Greek economy more generally.
The EU’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, called the vote “another step forward for Greece.”