After Contentious All-Nighter, Greece Bailout Approval Spurs Rebellion

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After Contentious All-Nighter, Greece Bailout Approval Spurs Rebellion

'Ask anyone who knows anything about Greece's finances and they will tell you this deal is not going to work,' former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has said

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speaks to lawmakers during an all-night parliamentary session. (Photo: Reuters)

In a development spurring calls for a new "anti-bailout movement," the Greek Parliament early Friday approved a controversial €85 billion financial rescue package—the country's third such bailout from foreign creditors in five years, and one that will require the Greek people to endure further cuts and austerity.

"After more than seven hours of often passionate, bad-tempered debate, all through the night, the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, has got his way," the BBC reported.

"I do not regret my decision to compromise," Tsipras said as he defended the deal in parliament. "We undertook the responsibility to stay alive over choosing suicide." He admitted to lawmakers the deal was no triumph, "but we are also not mourning over this difficult agreement. I have my conscience clear that it is the best we could achieve under the current balance of power in Europe, under conditions of economic and financial asphyxiation imposed upon us."

The bailout bill, which Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos described during the all-night session as "a tough agreement, with many thorns," passed by a comfortable majority. The government needed the bill to pass in time for Tsakalotos to head to Brussels to meet his Eurozone counterparts, who will decide later Friday whether to approve the draft agreement.

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"But the vote laid bare the depth of anger within Tsipras's leftist Syriza party at austerity measures in exchange for 85 billion euros in aid," Reuters reports, "as 43 lawmakers—or nearly a third of Syriza deputies—voted against or abstained."

Former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was among the Syriza members to vote against the deal. Earlier this week, he said: "Ask anyone who knows anything about Greece's finances and they will tell you this deal is not going to work."

Meanwhile, a statement signed by more than a dozen Syriza dissenters is calling for people across Greece to mobilize and form a "united movement" for democracy and social justice. The bailout deal, they say, "reverses the Greek people's mandate that went against neoliberal policies on the July 5 referendum."

By a 62 percent majority, the Greek people on July 5 rejected a bailout offer from foreign creditors that would have imposed further austerity and economic hardship. The bailout deal approved by the Greek Parliament on Friday is considered even harsher than the one that was on the table in July.

"We need to continue on the path of July 5 until the end, until we overthrow the bailout policies, with an alternative plan for the next day, for a democratic Greece, reconstructed and socially just," the statement reads. "We call for the creation of a nationwide movement, by establishing committees against the new Memorandum, austerity and the country’s new guardianship."

It is being widely reported that approval of the bailout, and the resulting rebellion, will likely force a confidence vote that could pave the way for early elections.

As Reuters explains:

[T]he vote left the government with support from within its own coalition below the threshold of 120 votes in the 300-seat chamber, the minimum needed to command a majority and survive a confidence vote if others abstain.

In response, government officials said Tsipras was expected to call a confidence vote in parliament after Greece makes a debt payment to the European Central Bank on Aug. 20—a move that could trigger the government's collapse and snap elections.

A senior lawmaker, Makis Voridis, from the opposition New Democracy party said his party would vote against Tsipras's coalition, raising the odds it would be toppled.

Still, some of those who rebelled against Tsipras on Friday could still opt to support the government in a confidence vote, as could other pro-European parties like the centrist Potami and the center-left PASOK, leaving unclear the final outcome.

The Guardian is live-blogging the Eurogroup's Friday meeting in Brussels.

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