Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Athens parliament: where do MPs stand over the Greek bailout deal?

Alexis Tsipras will face a critical test of his leadership on Wednesday when the Greek prime minister seeks approval from the national parliament in Athens for tough reform measures demanded by Greece’s creditors. MPs will be asked to back an overhaul of the VAT system, an increase in the retirement age and other changes, despite the rejection of similar demands in a Greek referendum on 6 July.

Tsipras and his leftwing Syriza party lead a coalition government with the Independent Greeks party, giving him control of 162 out of 300 seats in parliament. However, discontent within Syriza, and its anti-EU Left Platform group in particular, means that Tsipras must rely on the support of the conservative and centrist opposition to have the deal approved by the house.

Here is a breakdown of the Athens parliament and how the voting might unfold on Wednesday evening.

Click to enlarge

Controls 149 seats. Tsipras will be able to count on an estimated 114 Syriza MPs to back his reforms. Anywhere between 20 to 35 MPs, coalesced around the Left Platform, have indicated they will not be endorsing the latest bailout accord because it is at odds with the party’s original anti-austerity policy. Defections at such levels would result in Tsipras effectively losing its working majority and Syriza becoming a minority government. 

Independent Greeks (Anel)

Controls 13 seats. Syriza’s junior coalition partner, the party has given conflicting messages as to which way it will swing in the vote. Panos Kammenos, its leader, has said he will back the prime minister but will only support the original package of austerity reforms agreed by party leaders last week – and not the deal that Tsipras “was blackmailed” into accepting in Brussels. He has told his MPs to vote according to their conscience and, ratcheting up the pressure on Tuesday, declared a “coup” was underway to remove the Greek government from power.

New Democracy

Controls 76 seats. The centre-right party has said it will support the deal, arguing that a bad deal is still better than national catastrophe and will keep Greece in the eurozone. Tsipras will be able to count on all 76 MPs in a twist that, for once, will put him on the same side as the party whose austerity policies he so vehemently opposed in opposition.

To Potami (the River)

Controls 17 seats. Pro-European, centrist and reformist, the party has said it will wholeheartedly support “any agreement” that secures Greece’s “natural place at the heart of Europe”. Its leader, Stavros Theodorakis, however, ruled out participating in a national unity government on Tuesday, saying: “We are a reformist, European opposition.”

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