German Left Party votes against Greek deal, Podemos slams creditors

July 17, 2015
German left party Die Linke opposed the bailout deal enforced on Greece.

More than 60 lawmakers from Germany’s Die Linke (The Left) party voted against the proposal for further austerity for Greece on July 17. They accused the German government of “destroying Europe” by forcing Greece to accept hard-hitting austerity measures required by the eurozone for a third bailout deal.

Despite strong left opposition, the majority of the German Bundestag (parliament) voted to back Chancellor Angela Merkel's proposal for a further US$93.5 billion bailout deal for Greece.

Die Linke’s parliamentary group leader Gregor Gysi said the plan will continue the damage the previous austerity measures imposed on Greece: “You have to decrease wages, you have to decrease pensions ... this completely wrong programme has lead to the reduction of the economic output, to the reduction of tax revenue/income everywhere, and is now to be continued.”

Gysi accused Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble of having blackmailed the Greek government.

The vote passed with a clear majority, by 439 to 119, and 40 abstentions in the 631-seat Bundestag. Before the vote, Merkel warned not backing her plan will cause “predictable chaos.”

Lawmakers from the conservative Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU), overwhelmingly supported Merkel's motion, although 50 conservative politicians voted against the measures on nationalist grounds.

Support for Greece has grown in Germany in recent days with protests across the country. Thousands have taken to the streets to reject the government's aggressive treatment of the Greek crisis, in solidarity with their European neighbors.

On July 15, the Greek parliament accepted the set of reforms demanded by its creditors in order to access EU emergency funding, despite 38 MPs from the ruling SYRIZA party voting against or abstaining. The measures were described as “irrational” by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, as they will continue the deep political and economic crisis in the country, although he urged MPs to back the deal as the least bad option.

Spain's left-wing anti-austerity party Podemos says Greece has been forced to swallow a bad deal by its creditors, adding it will continue to back the SYRIZA government, TeleSUR English said on July 16.

A leading Podemos figure Inigo Errejon slammed European leaders for their handling of negotiations with Greece, but said there are now few alternatives left for Athens.

“This agreement was not designed to solve [Greece's] economic problems,” Podemos economics spokesperson Nacho Alvarez told CNBC. Alvarez argued the deal represented a bid by international creditors to “break” Syriza with “enormous financial pressure”. He added that Greeks already in vulnerable economic positions could have the most to lose under another wave of austerity.

“[Austerity] entails enormous social costs but also economic costs and at the end of the day is unsustainable,” he said.

Meanwhile, president of Irish republican party Sinn Fein and member of the Irish Dail (parliament) Gerry Adams said: “The conduct of a number of EU governments over the past number of weeks has been alarming,”

“They have effectively closed down the Greek banking system and held the Greek Government and people to ransom.

“To its shame the Irish government took the side of the strong against those in need of support and solidarity. It is obscene for Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail to lecture the Greek people while generations of Irish people will be paying off debts that are not of their making ...

“Today could well be the day when all pretence of a Europe of equal states and people was lost and replaced by a Europe of the powerful and the wealthy.”

Sinn Fein member of the European Parliament Matt Carthy said that the shameful treatment of Greece has destroyed public confidence in the EU itself.

Carthy said: “The treatment of the Greek government over the past weeks has laid bare for all to see the complete abandonment of the fundamental principles on which the EU was supposedly founded.

“The disrespect shown to the mandate obtained by the Greek government and the wishes of the Greek people will be, for many people across Europe, the clear indication that the EU is no longer a champion of democracy or human rights but has steadily become a set of institutions which protect the powerful vested interests at the expense of ordinary citizens and even member states ...

“I firmly believe that this process will be remembered for generations to come as the day the illusion of a Europe of Equals was shattered once and for all.”

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