As deputies brace for vote on second set of prior actions, Tsipras lashes out at critics

As deputies brace for vote on second set of prior actions, Tsipras lashes out at critics

Ahead of Wednesday’s crucial parliamentary vote on a second set of so-called prior actions pledged to creditors, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sought to strike a hard line opposite critics within the ranks of SYRIZA Tuesday, sources close to the premier said.

In comments to colleagues, which were relayed to reporters by government sources, Tsipras is said to have lashed out at critics within the party who he accused of “hiding behind the safety of my signature.”

The premier sought to clarify that a range of alternative plans that have emerged in recent days had never gained his approval. “If some believe that an alternative leftist plan is Schaeuble’s plan, or grabbing the stock of European Central Bank note, or giving IOUs to pensioners, let them explain to the Greek people,” Tsipras was quoted as saying.

The references are to a plan by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble for a Greek exit from the eurozone and to an alleged plan by Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis, who is head of SYRIZA’s radical Left Platform, to use some 22 billion euros in Bank of Greece reserves to cover the state’s funding needs in the transition to the drachma. Tsipras’s purported criticism is believed to have been directed at both Lafazanis and former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who indicated in recent interviews that an alternative plan involving the use of IOUs had been drafted.

Referring to the tough deal he signed with creditors early last week, Tsipras spoke of “a compromise but one which keeps us alive so we can keep on fighting.” He sought to rally the party to back the measures, noting that after today’s vote, attention will turn to negotiations with creditors during which “the government must try to use every prospect for alliances, both political and social, in Europe to secure the best possible outcome.”

He also appeared to look toward a party congress in September when, he said, there will be “broad collective procedures to connect the goals and characteristics of leftist governance to the new state of affairs.”

Earlier in the day, the new government spokesperson, Olga Gerovasili, told reporters that the government aimed to conclude negotiations with creditors by August 20. She added pointedly that Wednesday’s vote would be on a new civil code of procedure, aimed at speeding up court cases, and the adoption of a European Union law designed to protect banks, not on changes to farmers’ tax status which she emphasized “is not a prior action.”

Reports according to which changes to farmers’ taxes will be voted on in the first week of August are “totally groundless,” she said.
Although the contentious changes affecting farmers are not on the agenda in Parliament today, it is expected that the 32 SYRIZA MPs who voted “no” to a first set of prior actions last week will probably do the same again today. Government sources hope that another six who abstained last week may vote “yes” this time.

The draft legislation is to be debated at the committee level at 9 a.m. today with a discussion at the plenary session and vote later in the day.

Parliament Speaker Zoe Constantopoulou appeared unmoved Tuesday, declaring that Greece’s democratic procedures were being “strangled.”

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