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News, August 2015
Tsipras Likely to Call Confidence Vote After Party Revolt
August 17, 2015
Flampouraris urges dissident MPs to support government
“It would be unfair for the coalition government to be overthrown by its own MPs” he explained
Tovima, Monday, August 17, 2015
Mr. Flampouraris told SKAI that it would “unfair” for the government to be overthrown by its own MPs and expressed his hope that his colleagues will put an end to the scenarios of early elections.
Regarding the escalating immigration and refugee situation, he noted that “tremendous efforts” are being made but that it has not yet been decided whether a ferry boat will be dispatched to Mytilene to pick up 2,000 to 2,500 migrants.
When asked why migrants and refugees were not transferred to the camp in Amygdaleza, he explained that the camp had been abandoned, is ruined and as such cannot accommodate.
Varoufakis comments on the third Greek bailout agreement
“A government commits to agreeing with the troika, even if it does not agree” claims former Finance Minister
The former Minister of Finances Yanis Varoufakis has uploaded an annotated version of the recent bailout agreement on his blog, where he provides point-by-point commentary and criticism.
In his, at times, scathing commentary of the memorandum of understanding, Mr. Varoufakis takes the opportunity to defend his policies and work he carried out while in office, while stressing that the government has committed to “agreeing with the troika, even if it does not agree”.
At various points the outspoken former minister presents juxtaposes them with predictions contained in the MoU with estimations and proposals of his own. Mr. Varoufakis also repeats throughout his commentary how the institutions purposely acted towards asphyxiating the Greek government and engineered the bank run.
Germany beginning to consider the possibility of debt relief for Greece
Spahn: "If Berlins wants the IMF in the new bailout, it must be prepared for debt relief for Athens"
The controversial issue of Greek debt relief is being considered in Germany, as it becomes increasingly obvious that the debt is currently unsustainable, ahead of the critical vote in German parliament on Wednesday on the new bailout program for Greece.
According to the German State Secretary in the Ministry of Finances Jens Spahn, there is the common belief that the Greek debt requires relief, but not an outright write off. Mr. Spahn, who spoke to the Welt am Sonntag newspaper added that such a write off is legally not allowed.
The German officer further explained that by extending maturities for decades and significantly slashing interest rates the effect would be the same for Greece and that European taxpayers would suffer fewer losses, as they would not become apparent immediately, but rather in the future. Mr. Spahn also conceded that if Berlins wants the IMF to participate in the new Greek bailout program, then it must be prepared for debt relief.
Similarly, the SDP’s representative at the German parliament's budget committee Johannes Kahrs underlined the necessity of facilitating the Greek government in paying of its debt and noted that talks with the IMF over the next few months would determine how the debt relief will be carried out.
The chairman of the Alliance ‘90/The Greens’ Parliamentary Group Anton Hofreiter also supported debt relief for Greece, in order for the bailout to be effective and to attract investments in the future. Mr. Hofreiter commented that the debt must be addressed in such a way so that primary surpluses may be invested in financial growth.
Tsipras likely to call confidence vote after party revolt
Mon Aug 17, 2015 5:52am EDT
ATHENS | By George Georgiopoulos and David Stamp
Energy Minister Panos Skourletis described such a parliamentary vote as "self-evident" following Friday's rebellion when almost a third of Syriza deputies abstained or voted against the agreement.
With Syriza's left wing showing little sign of returning to the party fold, Skourletis also raised the possibility of early elections should Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras lose a confidence motion. Tsipras had to rely on opposition support to get the bailout deal through parliament, and another minister argued that elections would be a way of achieving political stability.
Greece's political turmoil has raised uncertainty over how the government will implement the bailout deal, which demands profound economic reform and tough austerity policies, without a workable majority.
The government has said its priority is to secure a start to funding from international creditors under the bailout program, Greece's third in five years, so that Athens can make a 3.2 billion euro debt repayment to the European Central Bank on Thursday.
However, asked on Skai television about the possibility of a parliamentary confidence vote after this, Skourletis said: "I consider it self-evident after the deep wound in Syriza's parliamentary group for there to be such a move."
Tsipras was elected only in January, but since then has had to ditch his promises to reverse the budget cuts and tax increases that previous governments imposed to satisfy Greece's euro zone and IMF creditors.
Health Minister Panagiotis Kouroublis suggested that only another election could calm the climate at a time of economic crisis and show that the people would accept the onerous bailout program.
"Elections are not the best choice ... but for the economy to pick up there must be political stability," he told Skai TV. "To implement such a serious program with painful measures, you cannot do that without a popular mandate."
Tsipras fired his last energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis for joining a previous rebellion. Lafazanis now leads Syriza members who oppose the conditions that Tsipras had to accept in return for the 86 billion euros ($95 billion) in loans.
Last week Lafazanis took a step toward breaking away from Syriza, a coalition of the radical left, by calling for a new anti-bailout movement.
The chances that the hard left wing will relent and rally behind Tsipras in a confidence vote look slim.
"The bailout cannot be a unifying basis for Syriza," Stathis Leoutsakos, a lawmaker who joined the rebellion told Skai TV. "The bailout cannot be the program of Syriza, it falls outside its values, these are incompatible notions."
However, a group of Syriza lawmakers called for the party to hold together. "We recognize that unity has been dealt a serious blow, but we refuse to accept a split as a pre-ordained fact," the 17 signatories said in a statement on the party's website.
Alekos Flabouraris, minister of state and close adviser to Tsipras, said he wanted all 162 lawmakers of the ruling coalition to support a confidence vote. "It would be unfair for the government to be brought down by its own deputies," he said.
On Sunday, Greece's socialist PASOK party joined the main conservative opposition in saying it would not back Tsipras in any confidence vote. PASOK made clear that while it had backed the government over the bailout for the sake of saving Greece from financial ruin, that support would not continue.
Once the dominant force on the Greek left, PASOK now has just 13 members in the 300 seat parliament but Tsipras will need all the support he can get. Crucially, it did not say whether it would vote against the government, or merely abstain.
On Friday, support for the government from within its own coalition parties fell below 120 votes, the minimum needed to survive a confidence vote if some others abstain.
The conservative New Democracy party, which has 76 seats, has also said it would not back the government.
Tsipras has presided over the closure of Greek banks for three weeks and severe limits on withdrawals from accounts remain, even though the financial system only narrowly avoided collapse when the bailout was agreed.
However, Tsipras is untainted by the corruption scandals that have touched Greece's older parties and remains popular, although no opinion polls have been published since the capital controls were imposed at the end of June.
Tsipras's standing has raised doubts about how much the opposition parties may want to force new elections.
Skourletis said that if Syriza opts for snap polls, the party would aim for an absolute majority.
"I think such a goal is attainable," he said, playing down the possibility of post-election collaboration with the likes of New Democracy, PASOK or Potami, a pro-European centrist party.
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