Debate begins in Greek parliament for bailout bill

Hours left for second Greek vote on bailout reforms, Alexis Tsipras pushes in favour of vote and calls on critics to propose alternatives rather than talk without action

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Hours prior to a vote that will enable the second bailout package for debt-ridden Greece, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has criticised those against the new packages, including those belonging to the left faction of his Syriza Party, accusing them of all talk, no action and said they proposed no alternatives.

The debate on the vote has begun amid Greek lawmakers, and the parliamentarians are having their say.

The second bill is almost inevitably going to be approved by the majority of lawmakers but holds its significance to indicate just how much confidence the parliament has with the ruling Syriza party.

The European leaders and Greek government agreed on a conditional bailout programme last week, following 17 hours of negotiations in Brussels, in an attempt to eradicate the possibility of Greece dropping out of the eurozone.

Leading up to the second vote, Tsipras called on those in opposition to propose alternatives.

"Up to now I have seen reactions, I have read heroic statements but I have heard no alternative proposal to the extortionist dilemma of July 12. If some believe that the alternative leftist plan is the Schaeuble Plan, the seizure of the European Central Bank (ECB) stock of banknotes or to hand out IOUs to pensioners instead of pensions, let them come forward and explain this to the Greek people,” the prime minister said.

He added, those in disagreement with him shouldn’t ‘‘hide behind the security of my signature" and said he is well aware that he had "assumed responsibility for a difficult compromise...but one that keeps us alive to carry on fighting."

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos also backed the reforms and called on the lawmakers to vote in favour of them so new bailout talks could initiate at the soonest possible time.

“It's extremely important to wrap up this prior actions procedure so that we can start negotiations on Friday," Tsakalotos said, speaking in parliament on Wednesday.

The voting is set to begin for the second bill late on Wednesday night, following the debate. The bill will cover new legislation for failed banks. In agreement with eurozone member states, the bill must pass for Greek to retain assistance from the European Stability Mechanism

The measures from the first bill on July 16 passed with 229 votes in favour in the 300-member Greek parliament despite opposition from various Greek politicians including from the left faction of the Syriza party, 38 members of which abstained or voted against the legislation.

On July 5, over 60 percent of Greeks have dismissed the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) and international creditors bailout propositions and harsh austerity measures in a nation-wide referendum.

For millions of Greeks, the outcome was a furious response to the creditors who imposed harsh austerity measures that has led to Greece receiving two massive bailouts worth over 240 billion euros and the current situation pointing to another economic contraction. Unemployment has doubled since 2009 and sits at 25.6 percent, with pensions and benefits nearly halved over the course of the last four years.

However, the terms of the new bailout plan are much harsher than the ones rejected by the Greeks less than two weeks ago, which causes anger and frustration among people.  

Tsipras’ Syriza party and his coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL) hold 162 seats in the 300-seat Greek parliament. Excluding the 38 Syriza members from last week’s vote, his direct support is restricted to 123 votes.


TRTWorld and agencies