Despite the IMF’s warning, the Greek MPs have approved tough economic measures proposed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to avail of €86bn eurozone bailout deal. The legislation includes tax rises and an increase in the retirement age….reports Asian Lite News
Two hundred and twenty nine lawmakers voted Yes, 64 voted No and six abstained. Half of the No votes came from the governing Syriza party.
Ahead of the vote, protesters threw petrol bombs at police during an anti-austerity protest close to parliament, and police responded with tear gas.
Tsipras had said he did not believe in the deal, but nonetheless urged MPs to approve the measures.
He said he was willing to implement the “irrational” proposals to avoid the collapse of the banks and disaster for Greece.
In a passionate speech just before the vote, Mr Tsipras told parliament: “The Greek people are fully conscious and can understand the difference between those who fight in an unfair battle and those who just hand in their weapons.”
The vote passed despite a revolt by more than 30 of his ruling left-wing Syriza party.
Among them was parliamentary Speaker Zoe Constantopoulo, who walked out before the vote, before returning to make a fiery speech condemning a “very black day for democracy in Europe”.
Former finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, who resigned on 6 July, also voted against the package, having written a scathing blog about the bailout deal earlier.
Tsipras earlier acknowledged that the agreement outlining a third bailout for Greece had tough terms, but insisted it was the only way to avert further default and a Grexit.
He called on Syriza ministers and lawmakers who voiced strong objections to the deal to submit “credible alternative solutions,” Greek national news agency AMNA reported.
Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, who heads a group of hardliners within Syriza, has openly suggested a return to the drachma, rejecting Monday’s agreement as humiliating and catastrophic. He is among quite a few prominent party members and ministers who have announced their intention to vote against the bill without clarifying in most cases whether they will also resign and hand over their seats.
Deputy Finance Minister Nadia Valavani was the first to formally submit her resignation from the ministry and parliament on Wednesday, denouncing the debt deal as “unsustainable”.
Parliament Speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou also denounced the lenders’ “blackmail” methods.
Tsipras and the ruling two-partite coalition face a critical test on Wednesday night. According to Greek media reports, about 30 Syriza deputies may vote against the debt deal and the first set of taxation and pension system reforms.
Syriza holds 149 seats in the 300-member chamber. Junior coalition partners, the right-wing Independent Greeks who have also raised questions over the final draft deal, hold another 13 seats. Both parties came to power six months ago on a strict anti- bailout and anti-austerity agenda.
Regardless of the dissent within Syriza, the draft bill is expected to be approved with the support of the opposition pro-euro parties.
The country is in arrears to the International Monetary Fund since July 1, while banks have been closed since June 29 and will remain shut until at least July 17, according to a new finance ministry announcement on Wednesday. Cash withdrawals from ATMs remain restricted to a daily 60 euros ($65.75) per debit card.
As Greek officials and lenders work to disburse emergency aid in the coming days to enable a loan repayment to the European Central Bank on July 20, the government also faces a wave of strikes and protests over the deal.
The public sector trade union ADEDY called a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, disrupting public transport for a few hours. They arranged for a demonstration in front of parliament on Syntagma square. Pharmacists joined in by shutting down pharmacies for the day while the Communist Party called for a similar rally in another central Athens square.