Parliament approves prior actions, Tsipras gains more support from SYRIZA MPs


Greek Parliament passed early on Thursday two more prior actions demanded by lenders, paving the way for talks on a third bailout to begin.

A total of 230 MPs vote for the bill, which included the adoption of a European bank resolution scheme and the change of the civil procedure code. The legislation was opposed by 63 lawmakers, while five abstained.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras saw support from his SYRIZA MP increase slightly as 36 of his lawmakers failed to support the legislation against 39 who did not back the first round of reforms last week.

Ex-Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who opposed last week’s prior actions, voted in favour of the bill but issued a statement saying that he was only doing so to help the government buy time as he believes the agreement with creditors is set up to fail.

Tsipras urged lawmakers to endorse the bailout in order to stop Greece’s opponents forcing it out of the euro.

“Conservative forces within Europe still insist on their plans to kick Greece out of the euro,” Tsipras told legislators in the early hours of Thursday. “We chose a compromise that forces us to implement a program we don’t believe in and we will implement it, because the choices we have are tough.”

Tsipras pledged his government would never allow banks to seize the primary residences of Greeks as parliament prepared to vote on a bill that toughens rules on foreclosures.

"There will be no foreclosures of primary homes," Tsipras said in a speech to parliament ahead of the vote on the second package of reforms required to seal a bailout agreement.

"The protection of primary residences, by this government, was, is and will be lasting."

With demonstrators milling around in the square outside parliament and riot police in white helmets disturbed by a solitary petrol bomb, lawmakers spent more than an hour arguing over the procedure Tsipras has employed as he tried to rush through the legislation as the timing for the vote, initially set for midnight, was pushed back.

The 977-page bill up for debate from Wednesday night will simplify the process required for courts to reach a decision and write European Union rules for handling failing banks into Greek law.

The new rules will, in theory, shield taxpayers from the cost of bank failures and stipulate that unsecured depositors — those with more than 100,000 euros with an individual bank — will face losses before taxpayers. Shareholders, senior and junior creditors will be in line to take a hit before depositors.

However, the law won’t come into effect until the start of 2016 and Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told lawmakers that banks will already have been recapitalized by then. Greek lenders are in line for as much as 25 billion euros of new capital under the outline terms of the new bailout program.

[Combined reports]