Lawmakers in Greece Approve Latest Bailout


Greek lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favour to approve the harsh austerity bill put in place by the country’s creditors on Thursday, despite the significant dissent from members of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ own party.

The bill imposes sweeping tax hikes and spending cuts, has fuelled anger in the Syriza party, and led to a revolt against their leader who had forged the deal after a weekend Eurozone summit to prevent Greece crashing out of the euro, the joint European currency.


The legislation passed with 229 votes in favour, 64 against and 6 abstentions with the support of three pro-European opposition parties being significant.  Among the Syriza dissenters, numbering 38, were prominent party members including the Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and the former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.  Many blame the latter for the increase in tensions with Greece’s creditors due to his abrasive style during his five months in the position.

The vote took place just after midnight and doesn’t pose an immediately threat to the current government but raises doubts if they were able to implement the harsh new program required by the lenders.

It took place amid demonstrations with 12,000 protestors outside parliament, which degenerated into violence as the debate started on Wednesday night.  Riot police battled with youths who were throwing petrol bombs for around an hour before things calmed down.

First step

The bill is seen as the first step that Greece needs to take to start negotiations with its creditors on a new bailout of around 85 billion euros ($93 billion), its third such measure in five years.  Dissenters argued that the country could not face further cuts after a recession lasting six years that has seen poverty and unemployment levels rise astronomically and wiped out one quarter of the country’s economy.

PM Tsipras has been working all week to get his party hard-liners to back the deal, acknowledging that the agreement reached was far from what he wanted and was trampling on his pre-election promises to repeal austerity.  He added that the alternative would be far worse for the country.

“We had a very specific choice – a deal with largely disagreed with or a chaotic default,” he told the parliament before the vote.  He also urged Syriza members to back the bill despite having called for voters to reject an earlier, milder set of demands in a referendum on 5th July.


High-ranking dissenters included the Alternative Finance Minister Nadia Valavani who resigned before the vote saying she could not vote for the bill.  In her letter to the Prime Minister, she said that ‘dominant circles in Germany’ were set on the ‘full humiliation of the government and the country’.  The economy minister’s general secretary was another to resign.

Thursday’s vote came after two weeks of capital controls, when the Greek banks and stock exchange had been shut down since June 29th and the limit of withdrawals from bank accounts being just 60 euros a day.

Banks are dangerously low on liquidity and the country has almost run out of cash, so funds are desperately needed.  It also faces a deadline on Monday to repay a loan of 4.2 billion euros to the European Central Bank and is 2 billion euros in arrears on a loan from the IMF.


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