(AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis). Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reacts as he speaks during a parliament meeting in Athens, Saturday, July 11, 2015. Hopes that Greece can get a rescue deal that will prevent a catastrophic exi…
Greek lawmakers braced for an all-night parliament session Friday as the country’s prime minister sought to rally support for tough austerity measures designed to win approval for a third bailout.
Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who heads Independent Greeks, said he was advocating a vote in favor of the proposal even though the reforms were against his party’s principles. The centrist opposition To Potami party and the main center-right opposition New Democracy said they would support him.
The proposed measures, including tax increases and cuts in pension spending, are certain to inflict more pain on a Greek public who just days ago voted overwhelmingly against a similar plan.
The new proposal, if approved by Greece’s worldwide creditors, will provide longer-term financial support for a nation that has endured six years of recession. That is far more than the 7.2 billion euros left over from Greece’s previous bailout that had been at stake in the country’s five-month negotiations until last month.
The Greek parliament is expected to vote shortly on the package of reforms left-wing Premier Alexis Tsipras promised his European Union peers in return for a new bailout to save Greece from crashing out of the eurozone.
“Now I have the feeling we’ve reached the demarcation line”, he said.
UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said Mr Tsipras had “caved in to the EU” less than a week after the Greek people rejected – on the Syriza government’s recommendation – a milder reform package in a referendum.
The proposal aims to procure financing “for three years, debt adjustment and a front-loaded investment package of 35 billion euros”, a Greek government source said.
But in an ominous sign for the stability of the government, 10 members on the ruling benches abstained or voted against the measures and another seven were absent, leaving Tsipras short of the 151 seats needed for a majority of his own.
Several Syriza-aligned parliamentarians threatening to rebel but the centre-Right New Democracy party offered to back the deal.
In Brussels, European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said that at the meeting of the 19 finance ministers sharing the euro currency and the global Monetary Fund, “we have to show willingness, a sense of responsibility”. “I am afraid of one thing: national division and civil war”. The plan will be then considered by eurozone finance ministers on Saturday, and by European Union leaders at a summit in Brussels on Sunday. French President Francois Hollande said in a rare Twitter post that its reform proposals were “serious, credible” and demonstrated Greece’s determination to stay in the euro area.
Estonia’s parliament was the first to give the government conditional authorization for loan negotiations with Greece, provided the Commission finds sufficient basis for the talks.
The finance ministers must make a “far-reaching decision” Saturday, and must do so carefully, Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said.
Greek banks have been closed for nearly two weeks and ATM withdrawals have been limited to €60 a day under capital controls introduced by the government. Although credit and debit cards work freely within the country, many businesses are refusing to accept them and insisting on cash-only payments.