Setting the stage for a pivotal deal with Europe, the Greek Parliament early Saturday approved Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s proposal for a three-year, $59 billion rescue package with harsh austerity terms that was remarkably similar to the one Greek voters rejected in a referendum less than a week ago.
With a Sunday deadline looming for a decision on the bailout, a crunch point that all sides see as Greece’s last chance to avoid bankruptcy and stay in the euro currency zone, the measure passed by an overwhelming margin, but a number of lawmakers in Mr. Tsipras’s government coalition abstained or voted no, a serious blow that may force him to shuffle the government.
With most votes counted, at least 250 lawmakers approved the plan; the rest of the 300-member body opposed it or abstained.
The proposal must now win approval from European officials and institutions before negotiations can finally go forward on a comprehensive bailout package.
Lawmakers took up the measure after Mr. Tsipras decided to give in to most of the demands of Greece’s creditors. In exchange, he won the opportunity to negotiate for the new bailout money, on top of about $270 billion Greece has received since 2010, and potential negotiations to reduce the repayment terms on the debt. It also might allow Greece to avoid a catastrophic exit from the eurozone.
Yet even as the vote was debated in the Greek Parliament, influential voices in Germany and Eastern Europe expressed skepticism about whether Greece would follow through on pledges to be more fiscally responsible. And crowds of people gathered outside the Parliament building in Athens on Friday evening to protest Mr. Tsipras’s abrupt U-turn, with many saying they felt betrayed after he urged them to reject the bailout in the historic referendum last Sunday.
One of the demonstrators, John Papageorgiou, 45, a math teacher, said he would have liked for Greece to drop the euro currency because he believed the euro advantaged certain countries, like Germany, while disadvantaging others, like Greece.
SOURCE: LIZ ALDERMAN and ANDREW HIGGINS
The New York Times