The Slatest

Passage of Bailout Might Be Last Thing Tsipras Accomplishes as Greek PM

The Greek parliament came out of a marathon session Friday morning having approved a final bill to accept the terms offered by the country’s European creditors in exchange for an 85 billion-euro bailout. The Guardian posted a two-minute clip reel of the animated all-night debate, which included no small measure of classic parliamentary heckling. “What do you mean I should be decent?” snapped one lawmaker from the podium, according to the Guardian’s subtitles, as his speech was interrupted by a colleague. “Have you seen your caucus?”

The bill’s passage in Athens means the bailout will go to national parliaments across the eurozone for approval. The drama in Greece, meanwhile, could be about to enter a new phase: Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, facing erosion of support among members of parliament from his anti-austerity Syriza party, might call for MPs to hold a vote of confidence in his prime ministership as soon as next week. If it fails, Greeks would be headed back to the polls this fall, less than a year after Tsipras was sworn in.

If the Thursday-night/Friday-morning vote is any indication, Tsipras has plenty of reason to fear for his job. The bill needed substantial support from outside the prime minister’s party to get through; Damian Mac Con Uladh at the Irish Times assembled a bleak tally of Syriza members’ votes on the series of bailout bills, showing that some members that had initially supported Tsipras in his calls to accept Europe’s terms had switched their votes to abstentions or even rejection of the bill by the third round of voting.

One of Tsipras’ most ardent past supporters, former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, said that while he could not support the deal, he’d be willing to resign from parliament before the vote and allow Tsipras to appoint a replacement who would support the bailout. Varoufakis ultimately cast a no vote.

Reuters reports that a group of “rebels” within Syriza has already made moves toward ditching  Tsipras over his support for the bailout:

The leader of Syriza’s far-left rebel faction, former energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, took a step toward breaking away from the party on Thursday by calling for a new anti-bailout movement.

“The fight against the new bailout starts today, by mobilizing people in every corner of the country,” said a statement signed by Lafazanis and 11 other Syriza members.

The rebels insist the government should stand by the promises on which it was elected, to reverse the waves of spending cuts and tax rises which have had a devastating effect on an already weak economy over the past few years.

Adding to Tsipras’s troubles, parliamentary speaker and Syriza anti-austerity hardliner Zoe Konstantopoulou snubbed a request from Tsipras to speed up handling of the bailout bill.

Instead, she raised a long series of procedural questions and objections which held up proceedings that were due to be wrapped up on Thursday, infuriating lawmakers. The delay forced Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos to miss the vote because he had to depart for the euro zone finance ministers’ meeting in Brussels.

Speaker Konstantopoulou might be the only politician less popular than Tsipras among Greek lawmakers at the moment, after her attempt to declare the bailout’s passage invalid, which would have forced MPs to return and vote again in 24 hours. Her suggestion was evidently not very well-received.