In an appeal to lawmakers before the vote, Tsipras defended the decision to accept a programme that comes at the price of tax hikes, spending cuts and economic reforms, saying it was a choice between “staying alive or suicide”.
The bill for the bailout approval had been fast-tracked through parliament, and lawmakers spent almost 15 hours in debate from Thursday night to Friday morning before the bill was passed.
Despite the repeated delays in Greece, lawmakers in Finland authorized the country’s prime minister to finalize Greek bailout negotiations on behalf of his country – an indication that eurozone lenders were moving toward finalizing the deal. Among those in Syriza΄s parliamentary group who voted “no” to the deal was Yanis Varoufakis, Greece΄s outspoken finance minister until his ousting in July. Anti-austerity demonstrations were planned outside parliament for Thursday evening debate.
The leader of Syriza’s far-left rebel faction, former energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, took a step toward breaking away from the party by calling for a new anti-bailout movement. He stopped short of quitting Syriza outright, however.
In reaction to the news of the initial agreement Guy Verhofstadt, President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, commented: “For the first time an agreement is reached that represents more than an accounting exercise…” Alexis Tsipras used the event as a motivational element in his argument to parliament, telling lawmakers that German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble would try to reverse what had already been agreed if Athens didn’t approve the bailout deal.
‘That would not be a defeat for (Greek Finance Minister Euclid) Tsakalotos, or for Greece, but for Europe’. “We are heading for an election”, he told reporters, “it is clear there is a problem within the government”. But he said it was normal “that questions are asked”.
Greece faces an urgent deadline on 20 August, when it must repay about €3.2bn to the European Central Bank (ECB). Without the money, it would default – reviving concerns that it would drop out of the eurozone. But now is the time when Greece, and the EU, will find out whether Tsipras truly has what it takes. Greece’s obligations will peak at 201 per cent of gross domestic product next year, before dropping to 160 per cent in 2022 under a new rescue program, according to their projections in a document obtained by Bloomberg. Greek debt will be discussed in October, he said. Greece’s progress on reforms will be reviewed every three months.
ABN Amro analyst Nick Kounis said the eurozone will recover momentum but the slowdown “could reflect some fallout from the Greek crisis and potentially weakness in the Chinese economy”.
Athens was forced to close the banks for three weeks and even now capital controls severely limiting withdrawals and payments aboard remain, badly hurting the economy.
The figures showed second quarter growth up 1.4 percent compared with the same period the previous year.
Information for this article was contributed by Elena Becatoros, Geir Moulson and Lorne Cook of The Associated Press and by Arne Delfs, Rainer Buergin and Brian Parkin of Bloomberg News.