Who Will Implement the New Greek Program?

The big question now on the table, is, who will implement the bailout deal just worked out…  or not worked out? The issue is not which Greeks will implement it, but who among the creditors? On the Greek side, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras lost his coalition’s majority in Parliament on the issue, which could mean a cabinet reshuffling or early elections as soon as September or October.

The Greek Parliament passed the bill titled “Emergency Regulations for the Negotiation and Conclusion of Agreement with the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).”  A majority of 229 of a total of 299 deputies voted yes, with the main opposition New Democracy, To Potami, and Pasok voting in support of the government.  Sixty-four deputies voted against it, 32 of whom were Syriza members, and the rest from the fascist Golden Dawn and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).  Another six MPs from Syriza abstained.

Voting no were former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, Deputy Labor Minister Dimitris Stratoulis, and the President of Parliament Zoe Konstantopoulou.

Responding to rumors that he was among several ministers who could be reshuffled out of the government, Lafazanis said he remained loyal to the government, but was ready to offer his resignation if asked.  “We support Syriza in government and we support the Prime Minister.  We don’t support the bailout,” he said after the vote.

Speaking in Parliament, Konstantopoulou said Parliament should not approve the bill or give in to the blackmail.  She referred to the IMF report on the unsustainability of the public debt and underscored that the Greek Parliament should take advantage of it.  She said:

“We should not allow the blackmail to be complete.  We should inform the Greek people on the extent of this blackmail; we should ask our partners to implement their commitments, to respect democracy.  No Parliament should legislate under such tight deadlines.”

In a radio interview, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tried to justify the agreement, and took full personal responsibility, going so far as to say:

“I personally feel proud because we selflessly fought a difficult battle against the established interests, and against powerful adversaries at that…despite it all, we are leaving behind us a heritage of self-respect and democracy in Europe.  This planting will bear fruit in Europe at some point.”

He said he was subjected to real blackmail which aimed at the government’s collapse, and said the only choice he had was between disorderly bankruptcy and the acceptance of the “Schäuble plan” for Grexit.

He said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble had first suggested a Grexit “in March or April,” but explained that Greece did not have the necessary foreign exchange reserves to support a return to the drachma, and as such, would be facing a disorderly bankruptcy.  In his meetings in China and Russia he did not receive support to pursue such an option.

Even ahead of a reshuffle of the cabinet, resignations have already taken place.  Deputy Finance Minister Nadia Valavani, who was in charge of taxation and privatization, resigned on July 15 over opposition to the agreement.   The General Secretary of Social Insurance also resigned, telling ANT 1 television:  “I will not stick around to implement things that I do not believe in … I will not remain in my post just to collect EU4,750 each month.”

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