Central committee votes for party congress in September to review the bailout terms
by Andrew Jay Rosenbaum and Magda Panoutsopoulou
ATHENS – Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras won an important political victory on Thursday, one that indicated SYRIZA party support for the bailout deal his government has made with creditors.
At a meeting of the ruling SYRIZA coalition, Tsipras and his supporters beat down attempts by the rebel Left Platform to derail the bailout agreement, which calls for a three-year, €86 billion ($95.5 billion) bailout for the cash-strapped Greek government, in exchange for far-reaching reforms of the country’s economy.
“The first government of the Left since World War II is either supported by leftist MPs or it is not supported, because it has stopped being left and falls,” Tsipras said.
“We will offer a definitive answer to the question of whether a leftist government can survive in a liberal, conservative Europe,” Tsipras added.
He called for party unity, saying that “we cannot continue like this,” referring to the government’s reliance on opposition votes to pass the bailout reforms in parliament.
The prime minister’s proposal to hold a party congress in September to review the bailout terms, which will have been fully determined by that time, was approved by a majority of central committee members at the meeting.
Tsipras had also proposed that the meeting hold a referendum vote on the bailout, but this proposal was successfully rejected by Left Platform rebels.
Left Platform supporter and MP Dimitris Stratoulis said at the meeting: “The goal is to free Syriza from the bailout deal and to return to the party’s original commitments to the people, which means cancelling the deal with creditors.”
Tsipras asked party members who agreed with Stratoulis ” to explain their position, and to show how it would be sustainable.”
Meetings are currently underway in Athens with the Greek government and officials from the country’s institutional creditors — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the EU. The meetings are intended to provide the technical details required to complete the bailout.
Separately, the IMF said in a statement on Thursday that no “staff-level agreement” could be reached on the organization’s participation in the bailout. A staff accord at the IMF refers to techical advisors, who are below the top official level in the hierarchy, as well as below the board, reaching an agreement. Part of the IMF staff sought further economic reforms in Greece, as they maintain that the current reforms, agreed to thus far, are not sufficient for an economic recovery in Greece.
The IMF statement could indicate either a delay in IMF participation, or a full-scale withdrawal of the organization from the bailout. But a decision will only be made after further review of technical information.