As signs of ideological rifts begin to emerge within the ruling party and the government over the content of a deal with the country’s international creditors, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has warned that any opposition will be viewed as an affront to his leadership.
And in a bid to offer cover to SYRIZA lawmakers who are fearful of a backlash from constituents over the concessions the coalition is expected to make to conclude the second review of the country’s third bailout, Tsipras has been at the forefront of an uphill battle to convince party puritans that the deal will indeed be compatible with SYRIZA’s leftist ideology.
In this way, Tsipras is trying to nip any dissent in the bud before it gets out of hand with fully fledged opposition to the government coming from within.
Murmurs of dissent, which have become stronger in recent months, appeared again on Monday, with Interior Minister Panos Skourletis telling the left-wing Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper that the proposal by creditors for the sale of 40 percent of Public Power Corporation’s lignite and hydroelectric power plants moves “beyond the contours of what has been agreed” between Greece and its lenders and that the government should oppose plans to “cannibalize PPC.”
According to a draft plan seen by Kathimerini, the sale will start from July and end in the first half of 2018. Skourletis’s overall stance with regard to PPC’s fate has received fervent backing in the past from the Group of 53 faction – the self-declared guardians of party purity – which strongly believes that the corporation must remain state-run.
The issue is of utmost importance to lawmakers from the northern regions of Kozani and Florina, whose economies are strongly dependant on power production, as they fear a backlash from their constituents if the government moves ahead with the sale.
With this in mind, Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis will meet deputies from the two regions Tuesday in an attempt to quell their concerns.
Meanwhile, according to sources close to the prime minister, the government believes that a staff -level agreement will be reached with creditors by April 7.