The Greek parliament has voted an overwhelming ‘Yes’ to the crucial third version of a deal aimed at freeing up 53.5 billion euros in bailout funds from its international creditors.
In Saturday morning’s ballot (July 11), 251 voted in favour of the proposals and 32 against, which in theory gives leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras the mandate needed to complete negotiations with Brussels.
Speaking afterwards, he said he had a “strong mandate to complete the negotiations to reach an economically viable and socially fair agreement.”
The prime minister addressed parliament ahead of the vote:
“To answer the question of whether or not we’ve made mistakes during our five-month period of negotiation, the honest answer is to answer in the positive. Yes, we have made mistakes.”
It is hoped the reform measures proposed by Athens will avoid a Grexit from the euro zone. The Eurogroup is expected to announce a decision on the package this weekend (July 11-12).
A deal can’t come soon enough, it would seem, for Evangelos Meimarakis, interim leader of the opposition New Democracy Party.
“Time is up on Sunday,” he warned. “By Sunday, we need to have finished, Mr Prime Minister. I can’t even imagine what the country will look like on Monday if we haven’t reached a deal.”
The EU is said to have responded positively to the proposals, which is more than can be said of some members of Tsipras’ Syriza Party and the coaltion government.
Eight abstained from voting. Two, including the house speaker, voted ‘No’ and seven, including former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, didn’t turn up.
Stamatis Giannisis, euronews’ correspondent in Athens sent this analysis of the situation:
“Despite 17 defections from members of the coalition government, Alexis Tsipras won the Greek parliament’s approval to go ahead with the new reform plans with the country’s creditors. But the mutinies have caused great concern among the Syriza leadership in light of the fresh austerity measures the national assembly will soon have to pass.”
What’s more, a further 15 members of Tsipras’ party voted ‘Yes’, but have said they will, in the end, not agree to the reforms if Brussels consents to them.
With Greece being governed by the Left for the first time since the crisis began, it seems Tsipras’ party voted simply in favour of saving the government’s skin. The fragile state of affairs in Athens could mean a perceived lack of support for the prime minister would lead to fresh general elections and the potential ousting from power of the coalition.
The 13-page document sent to Brussels is essentially the same one that was presented to the country two weeks earlier.
It contains cuts and spending measures thought to come to 1.5 billion dollars.
But Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says this agreement is the better than the others and could boost the government’s negotiating power.
Speaking earlier on Friday evening (July 10), he said:
“I never asked for a ‘No’ vote in the referendum to pull us out of the euro zone, but rather to strengthen our negotiating hand. I didn’t deceive the Greek people or the political leaders.”