Greek Parliament Overwhelmingly Backs Reform Plan, Ministers Rebel

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is congratulated by lawmakers after a voting session at the Parliament in Athens
REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras won backing from lawmakers on Saturday for painful reform proposals aimed at obtaining a new international bailout, but he faced a rebellion in his own party that could threaten his majority in parliament.

The measures, which received an initial  green light from the European Union and International Monetary Fund before a crucial meeting of the 19 eurozone finance ministers in Brussels, were passed with the support of pro-European opposition parties.

With Greece’s banks shut and completely dependent on a credit lifeline from the European Central Bank, the measures were seen as a last chance to avert financial collapse and prevent Greece from being pushed out of the euro.

Euro zone sources said bailout talks are now very likely after the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF told euro zone governments after a review of Tsipras’s proposals that they were sufficient basis to start negotiating conditional loans from the currency bloc’s ESM bailout fund.

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.

Prominent leftwingers in his Syriza party signalled before the vote that they could not support the mix of tax hikes and spending cuts proposed by Tsipras, following the rejection of similar austerity measures by voters in Sunday’s referendum.

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