Europe

Greece crisis: MPs back €85bn bailout in marathon debate

Demonstrators shout slogans in front of the Greek parliament in Athens , during a demonstration against the third bailout agreement on August 13, 2015 Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Protesters gathered outside Greece's parliament all night to criticise the draft deal

The Greek parliament has backed a new bailout deal after an all-night debate, despite a rebellion by many MPs in the governing Syriza party.

The deal requires tax rises and more tough spending cuts in return for an EU bailout of about €85bn (£61bn, $95bn) - Greece's third in five years.

Eurozone finance ministers are meeting to vote on the plan in Brussels.

A deal is needed to keep Greece in the eurozone and avert bankruptcy. But it is risky for Greek PM Alexis Tsipras.

More than 40 MPs from his left-wing Syriza party voted against him on Friday.

Reports in Greece suggest he will seek a vote of confidence in parliament next week, bringing the prospect of snap elections closer.

The deal received:

  • 222 votes for
  • 64 against
  • 11 abstentions

Mr Tsipras has so far relied on the support of pro-European opposition parties to pass the controversial measures. Syriza was elected on an anti-austerity platform.

Makis Voridis, an MP with the opposition New Democracy, said his party would not support the PM in a confidence vote, Reuters news agency reported.

Thirty-one Syriza members voted "No", and 11 abstained - the biggest rebellion within Mr Tsipras's party so far. The rebels represented almost a third of Syriza's MPs.

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PM defends 'painful' decision - Paul Adams, BBC diplomatic correspondent, Athens

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption PM Alexis Tsipras' plea for a "Yes" was answered despite a split in his party

After more than seven hours of often passionate, bad-tempered debate, all through the night, the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, has got his way. The bailout bill has passed by a comfortable majority.

Towards the end of the debate, Mr Tsipras defended what he called a painful but responsible decision. He said the country had no choice. This was not a triumph, he said, but nor was Greece in mourning.

The bill may have passed, but Mr Tsipras has paid a heavy political price. Almost a third of his own Syriza party members voted against the bailout, even more than expected. They believe the prime minister has comprehensively betrayed election pledges to turn his back on austerity.

In theory, Mr Tsipras has lost his parliamentary majority and his government is hanging by a thread. It's being widely reported he'll seek a vote of confidence next week, bringing the prospect of snap elections in the autumn that much closer.

But for now, the scene is set for eurozone finance ministers, meeting in Brussels later in the day, to give the bailout their seal of approval.

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The marathon all-night session was marked by procedural delays and 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.

A "Yes" vote by MPs was required for eurozone ministers to endorse the deal to release the funds.

Greece must repay about €3.2bn to the European Central Bank (ECB) on 20 August.

If it defaults on this debt, the ECB is likely to stop emergency funding for Greece's crippled banks.

One of Mr Tsipras's most vocal critics within his own party was his former ally, parliamentary speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou.

She said she could not support the deal, and delayed the debate by raising several concerns - to the PM's visible frustration

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Syriza rebels included Speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou and ex-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis

Another Syriza MP, Panagiotis Lafazanis, told Mr Tsipras: "I feel ashamed for you. We no longer have a democracy, but a eurozone dictatorship."

Mr Tsipras told MPs they were facing a choice between "staying alive or suicide".

He said: "I have my conscience clear that it is the best we could achieve under the current balance of power in Europe, under conditions of economic and financial asphyxiation imposed upon us."

Rebels have insisted the government should make good on its electoral promise to reverse spending cuts and tax rises.

Mr Tsipras survived similar revolts during two key votes in parliament in July, when MPs passed tough economic measures required for the deal to progress.


Another late-night vote

Attempts to find a solution to the Greek debt crisis have been punctuated by marathon talks and late-night or early morning votes. Other recent occasions where Greek MPs have carried on debating into the small hours include:

  • 28 June: Vote in favour of a Greek referendum on terms for a new bailout
  • 11 July: MPs pass tough economic reforms required for talks on the bailout to progress, despite a rebellion from some Syriza members
  • 23 July: Parliament approves a second set of reforms demanded by creditors, this time focusing on the country's financial and and judicial system
  • 14 August: MPs approve terms of the new bailout

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