NEWS

Tension rises ahead of vote on third bailout

tension-rises-ahead-of-vote-on-third-bailout

Faced with opposition to a new Greek bailout at home and abroad, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday expressed confidence that the deal would gain approval in what promises to be a tough vote in Greece’s Parliament in the coming hours.

“Despite the obstacles that some are trying to put before us, I’m optimistic we will reach the agreement and loan support from the European mechanism, which will put a final end to economic uncertainty,” Tsipras said during a visit to the Economy Ministry, referring to a multi-billion-euro loan program that Greece and its creditors agreed to earlier this week.

The agreement was reached despite strong skepticism in Germany and other eurozone states. “Some want to use Greece as a pretext to reorder the eurozone,” Tsipras said. “We will prove wrong those who doubt us and we will manage to rebuild the country.”

In Berlin, the government cautiously welcomed the deal, even after German Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to have made quite clear to Tsipras Germany’s preference for a bridge loan. Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said the deal “goes in the right direction” but that it was “not yet possible to say” whether it was ready for a vote in the Bundestag.

In a related development, Tsipras’s office said that European Parliament President Martin Schulz told the Greek leader he would “publicly call” on the German government and Parliament to approve the deal.

Before the deal goes to the Bundestag it must pass through Greece’s Parliament in a vote expected in the early hours of Friday morning. With opposition party support, the bill is all but certain to pass.

But if the number of SYRIZA MPs who break ranks with the government is larger than the last vote in Parliament, Tsipras may call snap elections for September.

There was speculation Wednesday that SYRIZA’s radical Left Platform will very soon announce that it is forming a new party. SYRIZA MP and former minister Costas Isichos said the vote would lead to an “immediate divorce.” He added that “we are facing major political developments where the ‘no’ front will take shape,” referring to the outcome of last month’s referendum on austerity.