Greece gains, Tsipras loses as parliament approves EU bailout package

16 July 2015

Prime Minister Alexis TsiprasThe Greek parliament has approved sweeping austerity measures demanded by its European lenders to open talks for a fresh multi-billion euro bailout package to keep Greece in the euro, but at huge cost to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza party.

Despite significant dissent from hardliners and ruling party MPs, the 300-strong parliament voted 223 in favour of the deal.

Sixty-four MPs, mostly belonging to Alexis Tsipras's left-wing party voted against the deal while six others abstained.

Euro zone leaders at their meeting in Brussels on Sunday had hammered out a third bailout deal for Greece, offering to provide Greece up to 86 billion ($96 billion) in fresh bailout loans, but on the condition that the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras manages to implement a round of harsher austerity measures.

Tsipras managed to get the deal approved with support from pro-European opposition parties, which left a question over the future of his government.

Tsipras said there was no alternative to the package, which he acknowledged would cause hardship, but he stood by the decision. "I am the last person to shirk this responsibility," he said.

Greece has accepted EU donors' demands for reforms, including significant pension adjustments, increases in value added tax, an overhaul of its collective bargaining system, measures to liberalise its economy and tight limits on public spending.

It has also agreed to sequester 50 billion of public assets in a special privatisation fund to act as collateral on the deal. The fund will be supervised by the donors

Parliament speaker Zoe Constantopoulou, one of 38 Syriza lawmakers who opposed the package, termed the measures ''social genocide''.

Others in the Syriza party who opposed the measures included former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who was sacked by Tsipras last week. He had denounced the bailout deal as "a new Versailles Treaty" - the agreement that demanded unaffordable reparations from Germany after its defeat in World War I.

Energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and deputy labour minister Dimitris Stratoulis also voted against the package.

The ministers could lose their jobs in a reshuffle, but most of them said they remained loyal to the government.

"We support Syriza in government and we support the prime minister. We don`t support the bailout," he said after the vote.

Speaking in parliament before the vote, Tsipras made itclear he was supporting the package against his will but there was no alternative if Greece was to avoid financial collapse.

"I acknowledge the fiscal measures are harsh, that they won`t benefit the Greek economy, but I`m forced to accept them," he said as he made a final appeal for support.

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