Greece’s parliament has approved another set of conditions from the EU despite Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras facing another rebellion from inside his own party.
The first set of reforms, passed last week, saw 39 of the more left-wing of Syriza’s 149 MPs abstain or vote against – including colourful former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis – while today’s reforms, focussed on the slightly less contentious measures of judicial and banking reform, witnessed a slightly reduced rebellion of 36, with Varoufakis voting with his leader. With backing from several opposition parties, the bill again passed comfortably in the early hours of the morning with 230 votes out of the 300 available.
Tsipras remains popular in Greece despite appearing to go against the result of a referendum on bailout conditions put forward by the EU. He addressed the Greek parliament prior to today’s vote, saying, “We made tough choices, and I personally made difficult, responsible choices. We chose a difficult compromise to avert the most extreme plans by the most extreme circles in Europe.” He also accused members of his own party who rebel of “hiding behind the safety of my signature”.
It is hoped that negotiations with the EU on a third bailout will be completed by 20th August and are due to start this week. However, Tsipras is yet to get through parliament some of the more controversial measures demanded as a condition on those talks such as pension reforms and a raising of taxes paid by farmers – a move opposed by opposition party New Democracy which has 76 votes in the chamber.
The government is hoping that if the bailout package is completed by the end of August to then hold snap elections in the autumn to take advantage of Tsipras’ popularity and try to gain an overall majority in the Greek parliament. At the moment it is in coalition with nationalist party Independent Greeks.
Today’s vote again triggered demonstrations outside the parliament building. Again, there were scuffles, but these were less severe than those last week when a large group of masked men hurled petrol bombs at police. Today the disturbance was limited to a small group of anarchists.