SYRIZA rebels break away to form new group


Far-left rebels in Greece's Syriza party have broken away to form a new party with 25 lawmakers, a parliament deputy speaker announced on Friday.

The new party will be called "Popular Unity" and headed by former Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis, the leader of the far-left faction within Syriza that has defied outgoing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's call to back a third bailout programme. Tsipras resigned on Thursday.

With 25 lawmakers, the party would be the third largest bloc in Greece's 300-seat parliament ahead of the centrist To Potami and far-right Golden Dawn parties, which each have 17 lawmakers.

The split may allow Tsipras to move Syriza a little closer to the political center and broaden his appeal among voters, which remains strong despite Greece's near-brush with financial collapse under his premiership.

Tsipras had long been expected to seek early an election in the autumn. But he was forced to move quickly after nearly a third of Syriza's lawmakers refused to back the new bailout program in parliament last week, robbing him of his majority.