Leftist Syriza MPs to reject new EU deal

Anti-austerity march. Brussels, 21 June. [Joel Schalit/Flickr]

The new deal set to be agreed on between Athens and its creditors has triggered strong reactions within Syriza. Many MPs are opposed to it, and said they would reject it, jeopardising the Greek government’s stability. EURACTIV Greece reports.

Greece submitted a new, much-awaited plan to the country’s international creditors on Monday (22 June) which focused on VAT rates, early retirement measures and tax hikes. Meeting for an extraordinary summit yesterday night, eurozone leaders raised hope for a deal later this week.

>> Read: Hopes for Greece rise but debt relief remains sore point

As part of his election platform, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras had promised to put an end to austerity-driven policies imposed on the debt-ridden country by its international creditors.

The new Greek proposals, though, look quite “tough”, admitted government spokesperson Gavril Sakellaridis, and once again hit the ailing private sector in Athens.

Syriza leads a coalition government with the right-wing Independent Greeks. Within Syriza though, there is the so-called “far-left platform” which is uncomfortable with a deal that will not meet the party’s anti-austerity commitments.

Many members of the far-left platform are also eurosceptic. Since Syriza came into power in January, they have spoken in favour of a Grexit, and a return to the drachma.

>>Read: EU deal puts Syriza’s unity to the test

Leftist MPs frustrated

The announcement of the government’s proposal triggered strong reactions in the ruling party, with many of its MPs stating they would vote against it in parliament.

“My personal view is that these measures cannot be [supported], they are extreme and antisocial,” said Syriza MP and Greek Parliament Vice President Alexis Mitropoulos.

“An agreement based on the Greek government’s proposals is a tombstone for Greece, and will not pass from Syriza [party bodies],” said Syriza MP Giannis Michelogiannakis.

The lawmaker continued, stating that such an agreement will be a “worse memorandum than the previous ones” and will increase the social misery that Syriza promised to end before the elections.

Communist Tendency, a far-left faction within Syriza, issued a statement urging Syriza MPs to vote against the agreement.

The role of Potami

Stavros Theodorakis, the leader of the center-left Potami [S&D affiliated], said last week that his party was ready to vote for any agreement reached between Athens and its creditors.

Referring to the possible opposition of the far-left Syriza MPs, Theodorakis stated that the Greek premier could rely on the votes of Potami in order to pass the new deal in parliament.

In a conference yesterday (22 June) in Athens ahead of the EU summit, the Potami chief criticized the coalition government for its delay in reaching a deal with Greece’s creditors, saying that it was courting disaster.

“The uncertainty has ruined our economy […] Syriza and Independent Greeks party are flirting with a national catastrophe.”

Theodorakis urged European leaders to take the necessary steps to help Greek society, and forget any thought of punishing the Greek people due to the faults of its government.

Potami’s leader recently met Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels, where they talked about Greece’s future, based on Juncker’s plan for growth.

“[Juncker] talked to me about the 35 billion euro investment plan for Greece for the next 5 years. This money means growth of 3%,” noted Theodorakis, adding that similar initiatives should also be undertaken by ECB’s chief Mario Draghi.

“Greece should be included in the quantitative easing programme,” he stressed.

Tsipras’ next moves

A government source close to the talks recently told EURACTIV Greece that “Alexis Tsipras has thoughts of enlarging the coalition government.”

A future coalition between Syriza and Potami should not be ruled out. “If Syriza loses 11 MPs, then we will go for it [cooperation],” an influential MP of Potami told EURACTIV Greece last week.

The participation of Potami in the Greek government has also been on the agenda of the Socialists and Democrats.

Just before the Greek elections in January, S&D leader Gianni Pittella, who has been a strong supporter of Syriza during the negotiations these months, had urged the party to form a government with all the progressive left-wing parties like Potami and the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement.

Analysts estimate that a possible split in Syriza, due to the new EU deal, might lead the moderate Tsipras camp closer to the S&D.

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