Greece’s Tsipras to sell austerity deal to reluctant party
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sought his left- wing party’s backing on Friday for a new budget austerity package that is harsher than what he urged Greeks to reject in a vote just last week, but would provide the country will longer-term financial support.
Government ministers signed off on the sweeping new measures, which include pension cuts and tax increases that are likely to inflict further pain on a people that have just emerged from a six-year economic depression.
If approved, Greece would in return get a three- year package of loans worth nearly $ 60 billion as well as some form of debt relief. The package would be far larger than the 7.2 billion euros creditors had been offering to Greece during the previous five months of fruitless negotiations.
Greece’s latest proposal was sent to rescue creditors who will meet this weekend to decide whether to approve them. The new package of loans would be Greece’s third bailout program since it lost access to financing from bond markets in 2010.
In an unusual move, Tsipras is first seeking authorization from parliament to negotiate with the creditors based on the proposal in a vote Friday. He is essentially asking his Syriza party to sign off on measures that to many feel like a U-turn since more than 60 per cent of voters opposed more austerity in last Sunday’s referendum. Tsipras convened his party’s lawmakers for closed- door discussions Friday morning before the parliamentary debate. The proposal was being debated at committee level Friday afternoon, and it was unclear when the full assembly debate would start. Votes are usually held at midnight, but they can go later.
The coalition government has 162 seats in the 300-member parliament and pledged backing on a deal from a large section of opposition lawmakers. But failure to deliver votes from his own government could topple Tsipras’ coalition. The proposals are to be discussed by eurozone finance ministers on Saturday, ahead of a summit of the European Union’s 28 leaders Sunday.