[Marxism] Tsipras will rely on opposition to beat Syriza rebels in vote

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 15 07:48:06 MDT 2015

FT, July 14, 2015 11:10 pm
Tsipras will rely on opposition to beat Syriza rebels in vote
Henry Foy and Eleftheria Kourtali in Athens

Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, will rely on opposition 
lawmakers to shore up his fractious Syriza party in a parliamentary vote 
on Wednesday where fresh austerity measures must be passed to unlock 
€86bn of crucial financial support. However, the process could leave his 
government in tatters.

Locked in his Maximos Mansion for a day of meetings with senior party 
officials, Mr Tsipras spent Tuesday attempting to suppress a rebellion 
within Syriza and drawing up plans for Wednesday’s hastily arranged 
vote; the outcome will be a litmus test of his leadership, and of the 
allegiance of MPs within his mutinous anti-austerity party.

Since returning from a bruising weekend in Brussels with his country’s 
creditors, culminating in a 17-hour meeting in which he agreed to 
stomach the intrusive EU package, one of his MPs has resigned and 
another has vowed to do the same once he has voted against the deal.
A further 28 MPs from Mr Tsipras’s coalition government have vowed not 
to vote in favour of the measures, which have been condemned by some as 
a betrayal of their party’s beliefs.

“I took crucial decisions . . . I will not allow anyone to judge whether 
my decisions suit the left,” Mr Tsipras said in a television interview 
on Tuesday evening.

“The text we brought back from Brussels is very bad,” he said in a 
wide-ranging defence of his decision to accept the package. “[But] we 
had on the table a deal or Grexit.”

The resulting rebellion will force the Greek prime minister to rely on 
votes from his centrist and centre-right opposition, who have pledged 
their support for the package but appear unwilling to entertain the idea 
of a national coalition government. Mr Tsipras will therefore have to 
either dump his non-compliant lawmakers after the vote, and risk having 
a minority administration, or tolerate their disobedience.
Mr Tsipras also faces a difficult time with the country’s parliamentary 
speaker, Zoe Konstantopoulou, one of Syriza’s most outspoken 
anti-austerity figures.

Ms Konstantopoulou, known for her vicious verbal attacks on opposition 
MPs in parliament and her heavy-handed attitude in the chamber, did not 
support the prime minister’s plan to negotiate a new bailout package 
last week. She has the power to disrupt or delay the crucial vote, and 
can be removed only by a no-confidence ballot.

Mr Tsipras said late on Tuesday that expelling MPs from his party was 
“not in his culture”, and that fresh elections were not in his 
“immediate intentions”, suggesting that he would seek to soldier on 
despite the backbench dissent.

“I will do everything in my power to keep Syriza together,” the prime 
minister said in his interview with ERT, a pro-government channel. “I 
respect the position and attitude of every MP . . . Everyone from an 
institutional role decides how they will respond to their responsibility 
based on conscience. The fact that we are institutional leaders does not 
mean we are dictators."

Details of the bill, named the “Emergency measures for the negotiation 
and agreement with the European Stability Mechanism” were released on 
Tuesday. They spell out the numerous tax, social security and pension 
reforms that Greece’s European partners have said must be passed on 
Wednesday if they are to open talks on a fresh €86bn bailout to save the 
country from bankruptcy.

Panayiotis Lafazanis, the energy minister and a fierce critic of Mr 
Tsipras’s attempts to strike a new deal with creditors, urged his fellow 
Syriza MPs on Tuesday to block the package. He described it as 
“unacceptable and unworthy of being credited to a radical party like 
Syriza and a fighting government which pledged to abolish the 
memorandums and austerity”.

Describing the country’s creditors as “financial assassins” and accusing 
them of treating Greece “as though it were their colony”, Mr Lafazanis 
said in a statement: “The government and the prime minister himself, 
even in the final hour, have the right and the opportunity to reposition 
themselves, and take back the deal before any final and conclusive 
decisions are taken by parliament.”

The leader of the Independent Greeks, a nationalist party that Mr 
Tsipras relies on to give his coalition a parliamentary majority, said 
on Tuesday that its 13 MPs will not back any measures agreed by the 
prime minister in Brussels that were not part of a pre-summit agreement 
struck with Greek lawmakers before Mr Tsipras met the country’s creditors.

“The deal that Tsipras went to accept was not the one he came back 
with,” said Panos Kammenos, who is also the Greek defence minister. “We 
are committed on voting for what we had agreed to [before the weekend] 
and only that.”

But like many of the coalition MPs opposed to more austerity, Mr 
Kammenos appeared to tie himself in knots by promising continued support 
for Mr Tsipras while vowing not to allow the measures to pass.
George Stathakis, the economy minister, said in an interview on Tuesday 
with Bloomberg TV that Mr Tsipras is expected to reshuffle his cabinet 
after Wednesday evening’s vote to remove dissenters.

Greece’s civil servant union, Adedy, will stage a 24-hour strike on 
Wednesday, joined by workers from local authorities and pharmacists. It 
plans to hold a rally in front of parliament during the crucial vote.
To Potami, an opposition party with 17 seats in parliament, reiterated 
its support for the measures on Tuesday, but said that it would not seek 
to prop up a Syriza government.

“All parties waver between national and partisan interests. For us there 
is no dilemma: we support the prime minister. To Potami will not become 
a classic opposition party; we will remain a responsible power,” Stavros 
Theodorakis, the party leader, said. “[But] we will not participate in a 
Syriza government.”

Two other opposition parties, New Democracy and Pasok, have also said 
that they will vote in favour of the measures but not shore up Mr 
Tsipras’s government.

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