THE Greek parliament narrowly passed the tough package of bailout measures early Thursday imposed by European partners earlier this week, in a marathon debate that almost jeopardised Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s six month career.
Tsipras, who was elected on a tough anti-austerity platform, told lawmakers there was no alternative, even though he disagreed with the measures.
“We don’t believe in it, but we are forced to adopt it,” he said of the vote that paves the way for talks on a new multibillion euro bailout.
He said he would not shirk his responsibilities and would push forward with political and social reforms and the fight against corruption.
Hardliners in the ruling Syriza party opposed the deal, but Tsipras found unlikely support from the opposition New Democracy, whose interim leader Vangelis Meimarakis had harsh words, causing last-minute tension when he told the prime minister that firebrand politics would lose him more members. He was referring to the hard-left deputies within Syriza who opposed the package and challenged Tsipras’ leadership. Speaker Zoe Constantopoulou and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis opposed the bailout.
“The threat of Grexit has to end in September, when we vote on the third bailout” Meimarakis said, adding that “a bad agreement is better than a non-agreement. But the deal is yours, Syriza and Independent Greeks, and you must find a way of implementing it.”
Tsipras said he had three choices. The first was to accept the deal, the second was a disorderly default and the third was (German Finance Minister Wolfgang) Schaeuble’s plan for a temporary orderly euro exit.
“If you think blackmail wasn’t real, I’m willing to hear alternatives. If you think it was real, we all have take responsibilities” he told lawmakers.
“I never believed that foreigners are to blame for all of Greece’s ills”, it’s the ruling class that’s the true enemy, he said in an impassioned speech.
“We are going to carry out necessary reforms in public sector, fight tax evasion. We will not allow neoliberals to take control,” he concluded.