The Greek parliament passed a second bill on July 23 including measures needed for Greece to open negotiations over the eurozone's bailout package of 86 billion euros, TeleSUR English said that day.
But sections of the ruling left-wing SYRIZA party remain opposed to the deal, with the SYRIZA youth wing issuing a statement calling it a “huge defeat for the forces of the radical left” and “an unprecedented coup d'etat”.
The vote came after Greek lawmakers approved a first bill on July 15 that included austerity measures, based on tax hikes and big spending cuts. The second bill covered rules for dealing with failed banks and speeding up the justice system, conditions set by the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund in return for the debt relief.
The bill, which passed with 230 votes in the 300-seat assembly, opens the door to formal talks between Greece and its creditors on the three-year-long loan.
The negotiations are expected to begin soon. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras hopes to reach a deal before August 20, when Greece is scheduled to make another debt payment of around US$3.3 billion.
“We made tough choices, and I personally made difficult, responsible choices,” Tsipras said, asking parliament to back the reforms. “We chose a difficult compromise to avert the most extreme plans by the most extreme circles in Europe.”
Tsipras told parliament: “We were led to a difficult compromise, having exhausted all negotiating limits and margins. We reached the boundaries of the Greek economy and the banking system.
“But at the same time we also demonstrated the limits of Europe today as well, its limits and tolerances towards the democratic choice of its people … The conservative forces – there can be no doubt of this – achieved a Pyrrhic victory against the Greek Government, against the Greek people, against Greece.
“However, they know very well that they lost something very valuable: leadership, the sense of their leadership in the European and world public opinion …”
The bill passed largely because of the support from right-wing MPs. Thirty-six SYRIZA MPs, almost a quarter of the party's 149 lawmakers, voted against the bill or abstained.
On July 15, 39 SYRIZA parliamentarians voted against the first austerity measures bill imposed by the eurozone and the IMF.
Yanis Varoufakis, the high-profile former finance minister and an outspoken critic of the deal with his country's creditors, voted against the first bill. But on July 23, he voted in favour.
Varoufakis said his vote was different as the reforms in they second bill were needed, and he had put the same measures forward before he resigned on July 6.
Divisions over the deal in SYRIZA have led to Tsipras replacing ministers from SYRIZA's Left Platform, who oppose it.
Greek banks, which have been closed for weeks after the European Central Bank closed off access to credit in a bid to bring the SYRIZA government to its knees, opened their doors on July 20. Limits on transactions and withdrawals remained in place, but were relaxed as the European Central Bank delivered an emergency fund to the country.
On July 23, SYRIZA Youth released a statement condemning the blackmail of Greece. But it added: “It would, however, be rather elliptical to interpret the outcome of the negotiations as solely determined by the choices of the creditors.
“We are obliged to evaluate negatively the [government's] underestimation of the relationship of forces within the euro zone, the unshakeable conviction that rational arguments could persuade the 'institutions' to be in favour of a 'mutually beneficial' agreement, but also that the threat of a Grexit [forced exit of Greece from the eurozone] that could play a catalysing role for our proposal to prevail.
“All these points contributed decisively to the absence of an alternative plan of rupture that could have functioned both as part of the negotiations and as a choice for the government; all this was a decisive factor in our being politically kidnapped.
“Parallel to this, the long indulgence in the technical aspect of the negotiations, waiting for an 'honourable compromise' that was considered to be certain, left no space for the enthusiasm and dynamism that the participation of society would have created, against the dominance of the technocrats and the pursuit of a political exercise unperturbed by change.
“Furthermore, we refrained from 'unilateral' actions that could have shifted the field of conflict towards the interior, consolidated our relationship with the people we represent, given the starting signal for new struggles, guaranteed the means to ensure the implementation of our program.
“In the face of this whole situation the [weaknesses] of the mechanism of the party (and of the youth organisation) was decisive. The non-convening of the Central Committee before the [July 15] parliamentary vote shifted the weight of decision-making towards incompetent organs, such as the parliamentary group, and towards the individual conscience of each of the elected members ...
“The agreement that was signed bears the mark of the overwhelming relationship of forces within the euro zone and of the blackmail perpetrated against the government and the Greek people. This political kidnapping and this impasse, for which we have paid the price, compels us to reconsider the axes and the orientations of this plan ...
“The adoption by parliamentary vote of the third memorandum runs counter to our ideological references and our collective decisions: it reverses the long march of SYRIZA and runs the risk of crushing hope in the only EU country where the left has achieved a historic victory. For these reasons we situate ourselves in opposition to this agreement.
“There is an imperative need, at this stage, for the immediate convening of the Central Committee of Syriza and for the immediate calling of an extraordinary congress, the supreme decision-making body of the party, which would have overall responsibility for the balance sheet of the previous stage and for planning the strategy for the coming stage.”
SYRIZA Youth highlighted the importance of the July 5 referendum, in which 61.5% of voters rejected an early austerity deal propsed by Greece's creditors, noting: “In this case, the government succeeded for a short time in making the people a protagonist, by choosing to give it the floor, against the extreme blackmail, the financial asphyxiation, the closed banks, the media frenzy.
“The referendum, as a social process and as a popular verdict, demonstrates that the struggle for the establishment of a social alliance capable of expanding democracy, synergies and solidarity in all areas of social life is more than ever relevant, but also that it bears within it a victorious dynamic.
“As far as we are concerned, the struggle for a more just world is not a moral justification, but a way to change our daily existence, our lives, society.
“We will continue to follow this path, keeping constantly in mind that history is a field of the possible, in which we fight to make feasible everything that today seems unthinkable.”
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