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Greek PM Faces Hostility Ahead Of Vote On Bailout Reforms


Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras looks on during the Syriza party's parliamentary group meeting at the Greek parliament in Athens on July 15.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras faced a growing wave of hostility from members of his own party on July 15 just hours before a vote in parliament on an austerity bill that is required for Greece to receive a new bailout package.

Leaders from the eurozone on July 13 pressured Tsipras into accepting public spending cuts that were even tougher than those rejected by Greek voters in a July 5 referendum.

Greek lawmakers will debate the measures on the evening of July 15 and are expected to support the austerity bill, largely because of support from opposition legislators for the deal announced between Athens and its foreign creditors.

But the raft of consumer tax increases and pension reforms along with free-market reforms contradict the core policies of Tsipras’ left-wing Syriza party.

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos attends a parliamentary session at the Greek parliament in Athens on July 15.
Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos attends a parliamentary session at the Greek parliament in Athens on July 15.

A large number of Syriza lawmakers are expected to dissent and vote against the package, raising questions about whether Tsipras' government can survive in its current form.

Greece's alternate Finance Minister Nadia Valavani said she would not vote in favor of the bill and resigned from her government seat.

In a letter she wrote to Tsipras that was released by the Finance Ministry on July 15, Valavani said she thought the tactics of the "dominant circles in Germany" was "the full humiliation of the government and the country."

Finance Ministry Secretary-General Manos Manousakis also stepped down on July 15, announcing the decision by tweeting a copy of his resignation letter.

More than 30 other lawmakers from Syriza have publicly voiced objections. Street protests have been called outside of the parliament building in Athens while lawmakers are debating the bill inside.

Tsipras agree to austerity measures that his left-wing government had long battled against in return for the start of negotiations on a third bailout program worth about 85 billion euros ($93.5 billion) in loans during the next three years.

The agreement sets a July 15 deadline for Greece to pass the austerity measures.

Without the bailout loans, Greece is likely to default on its foreign debts and be forced out of the eurozone.

Meanwhile, as Tsipras struggled to persuade his own party to support a plan that he said he doesn’t believe in, an International Monetary Fund study was leaked that warns that the bailout package doesn't offer enough.

The IMF study said Greece's financial muddle has worsened considerably and European countries would have to give Greece a 30-year grace period on servicing all its European debt, including new loans, and a dramatic maturity extension.

Otherwise, the study warns, eurozone countries must make annual transfers to the Greek budget or accept "deep upfront haircuts" on existing loans.

"Greece's debt can now only be made sustainable through debt relief measures that go far beyond what Europe has been willing to consider so far," the IMF said.

Greece missed its second debt payment to the IMF in two weeks on July 13.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and Bloomberg
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