Greece set for vote after party rebellion

Bailout deal sees Syriza fracture and a confidence vote looming

Greece set for vote after party rebellion

The Greek government appears likely to call a confidence vote following a rebellion among members of the ruling Syriza party over the country’s new bailout deal.

Panos Skourletis, the energy minister, described such a parliamentary vote as “self-evident” following Friday’s rebellion when almost a third of Syriza deputies abstained or voted against the agreement.

With Syriza’s left wing showing little sign of returning to the party fold, Skourletis also raised the possibility of early elections should prime minister Alexis Tsipras lose a confidence motion.

Tsipras had to rely on opposition support to get the bailout deal through parliament, and another minister argued that elections would be a way of achieving political stability.

Greece’s political turmoil has raised uncertainty over how the government will implement the bailout deal, which demands profound economic reform and tough austerity policies, without a workable majority.

The government has said its priority is to secure a start to funding from international creditors under the bailout programme, Greece’s third in five years, so that Athens can make a €3.2bn debt repayment to the ECB on Thursday.

Asked on Skai television about the possibility of a parliamentary confidence vote after this, Skourletis said: “I consider it self-evident after the deep wound in Syriza’s parliamentary group for there to be such a move.”

Tsipras was elected in January, but has since had to ditch his promises to reverse the budget cuts and tax increases that previous governments imposed to satisfy eurozone and IMF creditors.

Panagiotis Kouroublis, the health minister, suggested that only another election could calm the climate at a time of economic crisis and show that the people would accept the onerous bailout programme.

“Elections are not the best choice... but for the economy to pick up there must be political stability,” he said. “To implement such a serious programme with painful measures, you cannot do that without a popular mandate.”

Tsipras fired his last energy minister, Panagiotis Lafazanis, for joining a previous rebellion. Lafazanis now leads Syriza members who oppose the conditions that Tsipras had to accept in return for the €86bn in loans.

Last week, Lafazanis took a step towards breaking from Syriza, a coalition of the radical left, by calling for a new anti-bailout movement.

The chances that the hard left wing will relent and rally behind Tsipras in a confidence vote look slim.

“The bailout cannot be a unifying basis for Syriza,” said Stathis Leoutsakos, who joined the rebellion.

“The bailout cannot be the programme of Syriza, it falls outside its values, these are incompatible notions.”

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