Following the start on Monday of the Parliament budget debate and with preparations under way for a multi-bill listing the prior actions that will officially conclude the third review of the country’s third bailout, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is struggling to put a lid on growing discontent emanating from ruling SYRIZA lawmakers and party purists, urging him to pursue a more “leftist” agenda.
And with more contentious measures in the pipeline, Tsipras, who will attend Tuesday's Paris climate conference, is struggling to strike a delicate balance, as he finds himself caught between the demands of the country’s lenders and his party’s base.
His meeting on Monday with SYRIZA lawmakers representing the Aegean islands is seen as yet another reflection of the sort of pressure he is coming under from within his own party.
Arguing that the country’s economic performance is improving, lawmakers insisted that the government now has more leeway to negotiate with lenders so as to put the brakes on plans to increase value-added tax (VAT) on the islands.
The final word on this matter lies with Greece’s creditors and analysts believe it is unlikely that the government wants to begin a process of reviewing specifics of the bailout, as that could pave the way for more demands for changes by all lawmakers.
Meanwhile, with the leftist-led coalition coming under increasing fire for straying away from its leftist roots, the Group of 53 faction – self-declared custodians of the party’s purity – said it is drafting a comprehensive proposal outlining a more social-minded agenda for the country in the post-bailout era, which is expected to begin after the summer of 2018.
Dismay with the government was further amplified in late November by clashes outside courthouses between riot police and protesters demonstrating against auctions of foreclosed properties. To the end of preventing such clashes which have so tarnished the government’s image, the Justice Ministry has decided that auctions will only be carried out electronically.
Seeking to stem the growing tide of discontent, the Group of 53, which held a national conference at the weekend, is demanding, among other things, legislation that will safeguard the primary residences of vulnerable people.