Deal with lenders approved despite strong SYRIZA opposition


Greek Parliament passed the prior actions demanded by lenders to pave the way for bridge financing and a third bailout in a vote during the early hours of Thursday morning. A total of 229 MPs voted for the measures, 64 voted against, six voted present and one was absent.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras saw 32 of his MPs vote against the measures, while another six abstained. All of the deputies from coalition partner Independent Greeks backed the legislation. This means that the number of coalition lawmakers supporting the bill remained above the 120-mark, which is the level below which the government is considered not to have a mandate to continue.

Before the vote, Tsipras said the agreement with lenders was the only viable option open to him and challenged rebels within his party to propose a better one.

In his speech before Parliament, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos sought to defend Greece’s agreement with creditors as a necessary evil. “It’s a difficult agreement, a deal which only time will show if it is economically viable,” he said. “I don’t know if we did the right thing, but I know we felt we had no choice,” he said. “We never said this was a good agreement,” he added, noting that “a lot will depend on how politicians will handle the many changes included in the agreement.”

Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis, for his part, declared that “these are moments for responsibility,” noting that everyone “must state clearly where they stand on Greece’s dilemma. The government received a half-finished second bailout which was frozen and was confronted by non-viable system,” he said.

SYRIZA’s parliamentary spokesman Nikos Filis accused eurozone officials of executing a “coup” at a summit in Brussels on Monday when the agreement was reached. Their aim, he said, was “to topple the Greek government, to give the message that a leftist administration cannot survive in Europe.”

The opposition delivered harsh criticism against SYRIZA, and against Tsipras for his absence in the early part of the debate but also indicated they would back the bill.

The leader of the centrist Potami, Stavros Theodorakis accused Tsipras of intentionally delaying an agreement with creditors as “he was afraid of his party.” He called on the premier not to keep in his government those MPs who break ranks. As for Potami, he said it would back the government on the deal “even though a much better one could have been reached.”

New Democracy’s rapporteur Kyriakos Mitsotakis told Parliament that Greece “is paying very dearly for the political coming-of-age of SYRIZA.” “We believe in the depoliticization of the public administration. I strived for that as minister,” he added. “We will vote for the measures due to political conscience not due to party-imposed discipline,” he said, specifying that ND will vote for the prior actions this week and next week but that the government cannot rely on an “a la carte governing majority in which MPs can vote for some measures but not others.”