Europe

Greece MPs vote on key bailout deal

Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou Image copyright EPA
Image caption Speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou and ex-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis have criticised the deal

Greek members of parliament are voting on a new bailout agreement, after debating through the night.

The proposed deal involves tax rises and spending cuts in return for a third international bailout of about €85bn (£61bn).

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said he is confident he will win the vote, but some senior members of his Syriza party are defying the government.

The debate itself was preceded by hours of often angry exchanges in parliament.

Voting started just after 09:30 local time (06:30 GMT), more than six hours after the main debate began.

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Mr Tsipras needs MPs to vote for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be adopted before eurozone ministers can endorse the draft deal worth about €85bn (£61bn; $95bn).

The talks continued throughout the night into Friday morning. The eurozone ministers meet later on Friday to discuss whether to grant Greece the bailout money.

The next crunch deadline for Greece is then 20 August, when it must repay about €3.2bn to the European Central Bank (ECB).

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Media captionPaul Adams reports from Athens on the latest stage in the Greek debt saga

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Tempers flared during the overnight debate, with the leader of conservative opposition party New Democracy accusing Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos of making "provocative" comments.

Vangelis Meimarakis warned Mr Tsakalotos not to take his party's support for the bailout for granted.

"If you want to provoke us - and for us to vote for it - well, you can't have it both ways," he said.

In two prior votes on bailout reforms, Mr Tsipras faced rebellions from his own party, with more than 30 of Syriza's 149 MPs refusing to approve the latest tax increases, pension cuts and market reforms.

On Thursday, the bill was argued over in committee discussions and procedural wrangling for about nine hours, and the plenary debate did not start until well after midnight.

The leader of Syriza's far-left faction, former energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis called for a new movement to fight the deal.

The government said he had clearly decided "to choose a different path from that of the government and Syriza".

It has defended the controversial new programme as tough but essential if the country is to avoid financial collapse.


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Analysis: BBC diplomatic correspondent, Paul Adams, Athens

This marathon session of parliament has now gone on all night. Procedural wrangling held up the full plenary debate until 02:00 Athens time (23:00 GMT). But hours later, as the sun rose over the capital, the talking went on.

The chamber is full of exhausted MPs, all of them anxious to get away before Saturday's major public holiday. But such is the gravity of the proposed three-year bailout that the benches are still full.

The Finance Minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, has warned that unless MPs back the deal, it'll be impossible for Eurozone ministers - due to meet later in the day - to give their approval.

But opponents of the bailout, including members of the prime minister's own party, have accused the government of trying to rush through five hundred pages of fundamental, often painful reforms, without giving parliament enough time to debate them.

And so the talking, much of it passionate and bad tempered, goes on.


The rebels, including parliamentary speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, insist the government should make good on its electoral promise to reverse spending cuts and tax rises.

However, lawmakers are expected to approve the MoU by a comfortable margin with the help of opposition parties.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged Greece's European partners "to make decisions on debt relief that will allow Greece's debt to become sustainable".

Senior IMF official Delia Velculescu said the organisation "will make an assessment of its participation in providing any additional financing to Greece once the steps on the authorities' programme and debt relief have been taken".

Her comments followed a meeting earlier this week with Greek and EU financial officials in Athens.

On Thursday, data showed the Greek economy grew by 0.8% in the second quarter of the year, confounding expectations of a steep contraction.

Until the figures were released, the economy had been forecast to shrink again this year by between 2.1% and 2.3%.

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