News analysis

Deal leaves Tsipras in uncertain political territory

Agreeing to austerity means Greek PM faces possible mutiny within his coalition

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speaking to reporters yesterday in Brussels, Belgium, after the summit on the Greek crisis. He now returns home to push the bitter pill of austerity down the throat of his Parliament, putting his own political surv
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speaking to reporters yesterday in Brussels, Belgium, after the summit on the Greek crisis. He now returns home to push the bitter pill of austerity down the throat of his Parliament, putting his own political survival on the line by surrendering to harsh reforms to qualify for the funds needed to stay in the euro zone.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

ATHENS • For Mr Alexis Tsipras, it was more of an "inquisition" than a "negotiation" .

The 17-hour marathon euro zone summit left him battered and beaten, observers said, as Mr Tsipras submitted to the creditors' will of harsh austerity measures, while carving out some concessions here and there. But it is not over for the Greek Prime Minister - not just yet.

The sleep-deprived Mr Tsipras now returns home to push the bitter pill of austerity down the throat of his Parliament, getting it to vote in favour of a range of previously unpalatable measures by tomorrow to maintain the prospect of more financing.

In the bargain, he will also put his own political survival on the line as a possible mutiny stares him in the face


within his leftist Syriza coalition, Bloomberg said, for surrendering to harsh reforms to qualify for the €86 billion (S$130 billion) to stay in the euro zone.


  • Here's a look at the rescue package Greece secured in its third bailout in five years:

    - The euro zone has agreed in principle to start negotiations on a loan package for Greece worth €86 billion (S$130 billion). Its bailout fund - the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) - will provide the liquidity, while the International Monetary Fund will be asked to contribute from next March.

    - Of the total ESM loan, about €10 billion will be used to recapitalise Greek banks. Greece will also get short-term bridge financing of about €7 billion by next Monday to avoid bankruptcy. Another €5 billion will be given by mid-August. These funds will be separate from the ESM. The banks, shuttered for the past two weeks, will remain closed for now, a Greek official said.

    - The Greek Parliament has to, by tomorrow, adopt laws to reform key parts of its economy, which include boosting tax revenue, streamlining the pension system and liberalising the labour market.

    - Greece will also have to set up a new trust fund with €50 billion of Greek assets. It is a mechanism for paying off part of the ESM loan. Half of the €50 billion will be used to fund recapitalisation of Greek banks; the other half will go towards reducing Greece's debt mountain - by privatising assets - and investing in Greece.

    - The European Central Bank and euro zone finance ministers will tightly monitor Greek compliance with the bailout conditions. Negotiations will begin only after the plan is approved by the parliaments of Finland, Germany and Greece.

    - The euro zone, if necessary, may agree to extend the repayment period of Greek debt (by debt rescheduling), but it will not be written off. The European Commission will try to mobilise €35 billion - outside the ESM loan - to help Greece with growth and job creation.


Without the liquidity, Greece's banks will collapse and its economy will plunge into an abyss.

"We fought a righteous battle to the end," Mr Tsipras said as he insisted the new deal was good for Greece. But analysts argue that the terms are in some respects tougher than those Greek voters had rejected on his recommendation in a referendum just one week ago.

The 40-year-old leader has tried to head off a challenge from his party by telling his MPs "we face critical decisions". "We either carry on together or we all leave together," he said, according to state news agency ANA.

Mr Tsipras did pull off minor tactical victories, notably by retaining a measure of Greek control over a privatisation fund that would raise up to €50 billion by selling state assets - a target that proved unreachable in prior bailouts. At one point, he told euro zone leaders he had "no mandate to sell half his country".

But the mercurial nature of the Greek crisis, which has already shipwrecked three governments in six years, has seen Mr Tsipras go from being the scourge of austerity to possibly betraying the radical leftist principles of his voter base, Agence France-Presse reported.

Analysts say the bailout plan will pass the Parliament's scrutiny.

"The plan will undoubtedly be approved, thanks to opposition votes. But it will shake Syriza to its foundations," said professor of political science Serapheim Seferiadis from Athens' Panteion University.

"There are going to be resignations," he predicted.

It remains to be seen if Mr Tsipras brings Greece's mainstream parties into a national unity coalition and stays on to run it, or quits to escape the political blame for enacting the drastic Budget cuts he denounced for so long.

The ordeal would allow Mr Tsipras to realign his party and could even strengthen his hand, said Ms Filippa Chatzistavrou, a researcher at the Eliamep think-tank. "(A deal) will help Tsipras move his party towards the centre," she said.

A European Union summit is scheduled for Sunday to decide whether to accept Greece's reform plan in exchange for another huge bailout, its third in five years.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany had dropped a demand that the agreed summit document state explicitly that Greece should have to take a "timeout" from the euro zone if it did not meet the conditions for the bailout.

But Dr Merkel has ruled out nominal haircuts, UOB analyst Lee Sue Ann pointed out, with the Eurogroup - euro zone finance ministers - only ready to consider extending the


maturity on Greek loans. "At this juncture, it seems that Tsipras has gotten some of what he wanted, namely the restructuring of Greek debt... But a Grexit from the euro zone might just have been kicked down the road again," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2015, with the headline 'Deal leaves Tsipras in uncertain political territory'. Subscribe