Fis­cal fires rag­ing

Mutiny in par­lia­ment and ri­ot­ing in streets as deal agreed

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

GREEK MPs have voted in favour of a deeply con­tentious bailout pack­age, clear­ing the first hur­dle to­wards se­cur­ing a eu­ro­zone res­cue, but leav­ing the na­tion’s rad­i­cal Left- wing Gov­ern­ment weak­ened.

Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras yesterday pushed through the un­pop­u­lar re­forms de­manded by the coun­try’s in­ter­na­tional cred­i­tors.

The vote fol­lowed scenes of anger in Athens, where an­ti­aus­ter­ity protesters threw fire­bombs at po­lice.

Mr Tsipras suf­fered a ma­jor mutiny from his MPs — 32 out of 149 voted against the mea­sures — and had to rely on the sup­port of pro- Euro­pean op­po­si­tion par­ties.

The fi­nal count showed 229 out of 300 MPs voted in favour of the mea­sures, which in­clude sweep­ing changes to Greece’s tax, pen­sions and labour rules.

Mr Tsipras said to par­lia­ment be­fore the vote: “I had spe­cific choices put be­fore me: one was to ac­cept a deal I dis­agree with on many points; another was a dis­or­derly de­fault.”

“We will not back down from our pledge to fight to the end for the right of the work­ing peo­ple,” he said, adding that “there is no other op­tion but for all of us to share the weight of this re­spon­si­bil­ity”.

It was a bit­ter vic­tory for Mr Tsipras, who has said he does not be­lieve in the deal, but sees it as the only way of pre­vent­ing his coun­try from crash­ing out of the eu­ro­zone.

Greece’s weary Fi­nance Min­is­ter, Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos, told par­lia­ment his de­ci­sion to back the bailout was some­thing that “will bur­den me my whole life”. “I don’t know if we did the right thing. I do know we did some­thing we felt we had no choice over,” he said.

Mr Tsipras’s Gov­ern­ment also suf­fered its first res­ig­na­tions, with a ju­nior fi­nance min­is­ter and a se­nior econ­omy min­istry of­fi­cial walk­ing out in protest.

The ma­jor­ity of Greeks voted against sim­i­lar aus­ter­ity terms in a ref­er­en­dum on July 5, and fu­ri­ous de­mon­stra­tors could not con­tain their anger in front of par­lia­ment ahead of the vote.

“Our Gov­ern­ment are traitors. We voted ‘ No’, then Tsipras signs up to even worse con­di­tions. Mad­ness,” raged un­em­ployed Arse­nios Pap­pas.

For Greece to se­cure the bailout funds, the agree­ment must still go be­fore the par­lia­ments of the other 19 eu­ro­zone mem­bers.

Only af­ter that can the tough talks to fi­nalise the lon­gawaited deal, ex­pected to take much of the Euro­pean sum­mer, be­gin in earnest.

Pic­tures: AP, AFP

FLAMES OF FURY: Riot po­lice run through fire as protesters throw petrol bombs in Athens and ( be­low) Greek Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos dur­ingg the vote in par­lia­ment. .

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