Greek may vote in favour of new bailout deal

Greece Financial crisis
Greece rejects bailout terms despite financial crisis

The Greek government appears likely to call a confidence vote, following a rebellion among lawmakers from the ruling Syriza party over the country’s new bailout deal, senior ministers said on Monday.

Prime Ministers Alexis Tsipras faced a rebellion on Friday (August 14) when almost a third of Syriza deputies abstained or voted against the agreement worth 86 billion euros ($95 billion), which Greece needs to keep the country financially afloat and meet an important debt repayment to the European Central Bank within days.

But the prospect of debt relief for the country offers little comfort to normal Greeks who say the terms of the latest bailout are punishing.

In exchange for funding, Greece has accepted reforms including significant pension adjustments, increases to value added tax, an overhaul of its collective bargaining system, measures to liberalise its economy and tight limits on public spending.

“Nothing is stable, from one day to the next everything changes. I am worried about the future of my children, who are unemployed, about all this unemployment. I am worried about the bailout, the measures of which I think are too harsh, all of this. I am not optimistic, of course I am not optimistic,” said Eleonora, a 45-year-old private sector worker.

Antonis, a pensioner strolling in the centre of the capital Athens, said he was resigned over the future of the country.

“It (bailout) is not the greatest, but since we can’t reform ourselves and we can’t make the changes necessary for society, some people must exert pressure on us, so that we make them.”

Nikos bemoaned the hardships he predicted many would face in the coming months.

“I don’t think there is any possibility that this can move forward. People have no money, it isn’t going to work! I think it is going to stumble and in a month or two they will have to face reality. I think this government lied to us,” said the 52-year old Athens resident.

World War Two veteran Fotis Karavassilis accused the government of failing to meet its pledge of reversing austerity, saying it compromised the basic principles that brought them to power.

“The lies! In the beginning they said they would get rid of the bailout. Tsipras was saying different things before and now he is acting differently, but I guess that’s what everybody does, they all do the same!”

Austrian national Elizabeth Zouboulakis-Rottenberg who was holidaying in Athens with her Greek husband said she felt great sympathy for Greeks.

“If you take taxes from everyday life needs it makes the population even more poor, so that is why I hope they (government) have enough strength to get the money from the rich,” said the Vienna resident, adding she was convinced rather than the whole population, rich Greeks who owned yachts on the islands could afford to assist with the country’s crisis.

Some economists, like Simon Smith, chief economist at FxPro, the retail-focused foreign exchange broker, are expecting more hurdles ahead.

“Very little little reaction really. It was quite anticipated but it is hard to get excited when you are piling more debts onto already indebted economy, which was contracted well over 20% over the last six to seven years. So I think that is why we are not seeing a positive reaction but also knowing that looking ahead, there is further hurdles to come in terms of getting the IMF on board and potential debt restructuring,” Smith said.

Syriza’s decision to pursue a further bailout deal has evoked discontent among its own ranks.

Syriza’s left wing have moved away the ruling party’s fold, and Tsipras had to rely on opposition support to get bill through parliament.

Greece’s political turmoil has raised uncertainty over how the government will implement the bailout deal, which demands profound economic reform and tough austerity policies, without a workable majority.

The Athens stock market rose 1.8 percent on Monday, but remains down by nearly 20 percent since the start of 2015.

Newspaper headlines focused on the cracks forming in party loyalty for Tsipras who was elected only in January.

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Story By Koome Kimonye
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