Greece passes second reforms to unlock bailout deal

Crucial bill secures enough votes in parliament, with government hoping to open bailout negotiations this week.

The bill includes civil justice reforms, a bank deposit protection scheme and measures to shore up the liquidity of the banks [AFP]

Greece’s parliament has passed legislation on a second batch of reforms needed to help unlock a huge international bailout for the country’s stricken economy.

The bill – containing judicial and banking reforms – easily passed early on Tuesday morning with the support of 230 lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament, thanks to the support of pro-euro opposition parties.

But 36 out of 149 deputies from Greek Prime Minister’s Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza party voted against the overall bill or abstained – less than the rebellion by 39 deputies in last week’s vote on an initial set of reforms.

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Analysts had regarded Thursday morning’s vote as an important test of whether Tsipras could avoid another deep split within his own party and head off the risk of early elections after only six months in power.

The bill includes civil justice reforms, a bank deposit protection scheme and measures to shore up the liquidity of the banks.

“We made tough choices, and I personally made difficult, responsible choices. Today we must all redefine the possibilities ahead of us given the new circumstances,” Tsipras said in an appeal to parliament to back the reforms on Thursday.

“We chose a difficult compromise to avert the most extreme plans by the most extreme circles in Europe.”

Tsipras has publicly said he disagrees with measures demanded by Greece’s eurozone peers and the IMF for talks to proceed on a third bailout to save the country from bankruptcy.

But after he made a U-turn by accepting a deal at the 11th hour to keep his country in the euro, he told party hardliners to face reality and back the package.

A first set of reforms that focused largely on tax hikes and budget discipline triggered a rebellion in Tsipras’ ruling Syriza party last week and also passed only thanks to votes from pro-EU opposition parties.

The government has said it hopes negotiations on a 86 billion euro ($93bn) bailout deal can start this week and be wrapped up by August 20.

Apart from some minor incidents, there was no repeat of the violence seen at a rally in Athens last week, when masked youths hurled petrol bombs at police as lawmakers were debating the first bailout bill.

Source: News Agencies


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