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  1. Greece clears final reform hurdle before new bailout talks

Greece clears final reform hurdle before new bailout talks

Greece's radical left-led government survived another revolt by rebels in the early hours of today, passing reforms that should pave the way for the imminent start of bailout discussions with European creditors.

By: | Athens | Updated: July 23, 2015 6:18 PM
Greece bailout, Alexis Tsipras

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was unable to forestall a second revolt in a week among his own Syriza party lawmakers, but had no trouble passing the draft legislation with the backing of pro-European opposition parties. (Reuters)

Greece’s radical left-led government survived another revolt by rebels in the early hours of today, passing reforms that should pave the way for the imminent start of bailout discussions with European creditors.

The reforms to the judiciary and banking systems were the final hurdle the country had to clear before talks can start over a third bailout worth around 85 billion euros (USD 93 billion).

Without the money Greece would be unable to pay the debts due over the coming three years and would likely be forced to leave the euro, Europe’s shared currency.

Discussions over the details of the bailout programme, which will involve economic targets as well as potential debt relief for Greece, should begin “as swiftly as possible,” according to the European Union’s executive commission.

The hope on both sides is that the discussions will conclude by August 20, when Greece has a payment of a little more than 3 billion euros (USD 3.2 billion) due to the European Central Bank.

The European Commission welcomed the Greek Parliament’s vote in favour of further reforms, saying it had taken “another important step toward implementing its commitments” made during a summit of European leaders last week.

Lawmakers voted 230-63 in favour of the measures, following a whirlwind debate that ended at 4 am (0630 IST).
Another five members of the 300-seat house voted present, a kind of abstention.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was unable to forestall a second revolt in a week among his Syriza party lawmakers, but had no trouble passing the draft legislation with the backing of pro-European opposition parties.

Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili conceded there is a clear rift within Syriza, but would not say whether rebels would be expelled. Tsipras has accused party critics of acting irresponsibly.

“From this point on, party procedures will be followed in order to deal with the problem,” she said after the vote.

The number of disaffected Syriza lawmakers, who see the reforms as a betrayal of the anti-austerity platform that brought their party to power in January, shrunk slightly compared to last week’s similar vote, from 38 to 36.

Former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis voted in favour this time following his vote against last week’s austerity measures, which included big increases in sales taxes. Though the number of rebels diminished, it’s still roughly a quarter of all party lawmakers.

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