Tsipras facing revolt over bailout

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras faces open revolt from some of his own ministers as he seeks support for a bailout deal that, while saving the country from financial collapse, will cause years of pain for Greece.

Tsipras facing revolt over bailout

The Athens coalition must pass a raft of measures through parliament by tonight, including consumer tax increases and pension reforms, to start negotiations with European creditors on a third bailout worth up to €85bn.

The deal tramples on practically all of Tsipras’s pre-election vows to repeal the budget austerity that European creditors have imposed for five years.

However, after dragging out the rescue talks for months, Mr Tsipras was out of alternatives this week —without a deal, Greece’s banks would likely have collapsed, pulling the country out of the eurozone.

The draft bill is expected to be submitted today. Tsipras is expected to have the numbers in parliament to pass the measures, since he will have the support of most opposition parties. However, the government’s political survival is in danger if large numbers of its own MPs resign their seats or openly vote against the nill.

There is some talk that Tsipras might choose to reshuffle his cabinet, which would remove dissenters from key positions.

Energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, one of the hardliners in Tsipras’s radical left Syriza, denounced the deal and called on Tsipras to cancel it before legislation reaches parliament.

“The deal is unacceptable and does not deserve to be charged to a radical political party such as Syriza, and a battling government that promised to abolish austerity”, Lafazanis said in a statement posted on his ministry website.

Germany treated Greece “as if it was their colony and were brutal blackmailers and ‘financial assassins’ ”, he said.

Defence minister Panos Kammenos, who heads the government’s junior coalition partner, the right-wing Independent Greeks, stressed he would continue to support Tsipras but described the agreement and the pressure Greece was put under at the summit as an attempt to overthrow the government.

“The night before last, there was a coup. A coup in the heart of Europe. They want the government to fall and to replace it with one that hasn’t been voted on by the Greek people,” Kammenos told reporters outside parliament.

He said he would not allow that, and would continue to support the government. Party spokesman Terence Quick said the Independent Greeks’ 13 MPs would vote according to their conscience.

The government holds 162 seats in Greece’s 300-member parliament, and the bill is likely to pass as it has the support of most opposition parties. However, about 30 of Syriza’s own MPs have publicly voiced objections.

If Syriza sees significant losses during the parliamentary vote, one option would be to form a so-called ‘national unity’ government with other parties.

Many Greeks have appeared to take the latest turmoil in stride, saying the measures Greece will have to pass are harsh but that the alternative would have been worse. Others are outraged. Greece’s civil servants union called a public sector strike for today.

More in this section

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox