NEWS

Samaras and Venizelos to meet for second time in wake of stormy multi-bill vote

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Deputy Premier Evengelos Venizelos are due to hold a second meeting on Monday to discuss the fallout from the passing of the multi-bill through Parliament on Sunday night and preparations for the Eurogroup and ECOFIN meetings in Athens on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The coalition leaders met on Monday morning after a turbulent day in Parliament but are due to hold a new round of talks on Monday evening.

Their meeting comes after the bill passed, paving the way for the Eurogroup to approve the release of more than 8 billion euros in bailout fund, but with the government’s parliamentary majority reduced to just two.

Earlier on Sunday, SYRIZA had walked out of the debate after parliamentary speaker Evangelos Meimarikis refused its request for a censure motion against Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras that would have meant the vote on the multi-bill being postponed until Tuesday night.

“The persistent disaster mongers, who have been surprised by what has happened and all the good things that are coming for the economy, wanted Greece to suffer from a lack of governance,” said Samaras of SYRIZA after the vote. “We will not let them achieve this. We have made a giant leap forward for the Greece of tomorrow.”

The vote also created a new dispute within PASOK. Ex-leader and premier George Papandreou voted against the bill’s second article, which seeks to create a new legal framework for banks. Veteran PASOK MP Apostolos Kaklamanis voted “present” for this article.

The government won the vote with 152 MPs supporting the first article and 151 the second. Venizelos did not choose to eject the two lawmakers from PASOK’s parliamentary group, as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras did with New Democracy deputy Nikitas Kaklamanis, who did not vote for both articles.

Kaklamanis’s ouster meant that the government went down to 152 seats in Parliament. If Venizelos took the same action against the two PASOK MPs that failed to provide full support, the coalition would have lost its two-seat support, putting its future in serious doubt.

As a result, Venizelos settled for issuing a strongly-worded statement criticizing Papandreou.

The government now wants to focus on securing the Eurogroup’s approval for the next loan tranche, which is expected to reach around 8.4 billion euros but would also trigger the release of more funding from the International Monetary Fund, taking the total to almost 12 billion euros. This would allow Greece to pay almost 9 billion euros of bonds that mature in late May.

With this issue out of the way, the coalition is hoping that its eurozone lenders will begin before the May 25 European Parliament elections a discussion on further debt relief for Greece. Speaking to Bloomberg, Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said that any decisions would be taken “after the summer.”

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