NEWS

Prospect of confidence vote, snap polls unclear amid rumors of Parliament closing

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The prospects of an imminent vote of confidence in the government and of snap elections in September appeared to be played down Tuesday by sources close to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who indicated that the priority is to honor commitments to creditors.

Government sources had indicated after last Friday’s parliamentary vote on the new bailout that Tsipras would seek a vote of confidence once the country had paid off a 3.2-billion-euro debt to the European Central Bank on August 20. But Tuesday the tone seemed to change, prompting broad speculation that a confidence vote might no longer be on the cards and that early elections will more likely be held in late October or November following a first review of the new program and when the prospect of debt relief is likely to be more tangible.

Sources close to Tsipras indicated Tuesday that no final decisions will be taken before Friday. However, speculation swirled that authorities were planning to close Parliament’s plenary in the coming days and begin reduced summer sessions to legislate a series of prior actions demanded by Greece’s creditors. The move would allow Tsipras to limit the influence of rebels in his leftist SYRIZA party, as he can control the appointment of the 100 members of the summer sessions. It would push back snap elections, which the country’s creditors clearly do not want, fearing that the new program will not be implemented. Such a tactic would also certainly prompt a vehement response from SYRIZA’s radical Left Platform, and from outspoken Parliament Speaker Zoe Constantopoulou.

But it would likely please creditors. Although representatives of the lenders have made no public statements opposing snap polls in Greece, they have made it clear that they don’t want the government to delay implementation of the measures it has promised.

Some advisers to Tsipras, including State Minister Alekos Flambouraris, still favor the path of a confidence vote and snap polls so the final decision remained unclear late last night. Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili indicated however that Tsipras is buying time, telling Athina 9.84 FM that “in the next 10 days decisions must be taken and a road map must be on the table.”

Following the approval of Greece’s third bailout Tuesday by the Austrian, Spanish and Latvian parliaments, Wednesday it is the turn of German and Dutch MPs to vote on the package.

As European lawmakers give the go-ahead for the disbursement of what Greece’s creditors had indicated could be up to 86 billion euros in loans over the next three years, a spokeswoman for the European Commission indicated that the entire amount might not be necessary. “The total financing envelope of up to 86 billion euros is for the full duration of the program and it could turn out much less if things go well,” Annika Breidthardt told reporters in Brussels. The final sum will depend on how much of the 25 billion that has been set aside for recapitalizing Greek banks is finally needed. The results of stress tests on Greek banks, which are expected in October, will determine the needs of the banks.