Tsipras faces party revolt ahead of latest reform vote

ATHENS • Greece's leftist government tried yesterday to contain a rebellion in Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' Syriza party ahead of a vote in the evening on reforms required for talks on a rescue deal to commence.

A first set of reforms that

focused largely on tax hikes and budget discipline triggered a rebellion in Syriza last week and was passed thanks only to votes from pro-European Union opposition parties. The Bill that lawmakers voted on late yesterday covered rules for dealing with failed banks and speeding up the justice system - two more conditions set by the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to open negotiations on an €86 billion (S$128 billion) rescue loan.

The legislation is all but certain to pass, despite planned protests, after opposition parties said that they would back it.

But with divisions in Mr Tsipras' leftist Syriza party laid bare during last week's rebellion by 39 deputies, the vote would determine if he loses even more support.

"We are making an effort to have fewer dissenters," Health Minister Panagiotis Kouroumplis told Greek TV, while Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said it was important that the Parliament backed the deal so bailout talks could start tomorrow.

But hardline Left Platform lawmakers from the Syriza party, who opposed last week's Bill, said they rejected this week's law as well.

Mr Tsipras, who is associated with the moderate wing of his party, has publicly said that he disagrees with measures demanded by Greece's euro zone peers and the IMF for talks to proceed on a third bailout to save the country from bankruptcy.

But after he made a U-turn by accepting a deal at the 11th hour to keep his country in the euro zone, he told party hardliners on Tuesday that they should face reality and back the package. Together with his coalition partners from the right-wing nationalist Independent Greeks, Mr Tsipras has 162 seats in the 300-seat Parliament. But last week's rebellion cut his support to just 123 votes and government officials have said elections are likely in the autumn.

"We might go to elections, when this is needed," government spokesman Olga Gerovasili told a local radio station, adding that this would not be helpful right now as the country prepares to negotiate the new bailout deal.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2015, with the headline 'Tsipras faces party revolt ahead of latest reform vote'. Print Edition | Subscribe