Third Greek bailout deal submitted to parliament amidst mixed reactions

Updated: 2015-08-12 21:26


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ATHENS -- Greece's third bailout agreement since 2010 was submitted to parliament on Wednesday for ratification in coming days in a new race against time to unlock the first tranche of international aid to meet a repayment deadline on Aug 20.

The draft law tabled in the assembly contains the framework of the 85-billon-euro worth deal reached with creditors' envoys on Tuesday, as well as a series of prior actions the country must adopt in coming weeks to gradually unlock the next bailout tranches.

The new round of painful tax hikes, spending cuts and reforms introduced has caused mixed reactions by MPs, trade unions, representatives of the business world and media.

The vote at the plenary was scheduled to take place on Thursday night, a few hours before a Euro Group meeting on the deal Friday.

The aim is to secure the green light from the national assemblies of other European countries as well on time so that Athens receives the first disbursement to repay a 3-billion-euro debt payment to the European Central Bank on Aug 20.

Analysts in Athens noted that regardless of the outcome in the Greek parliament this week (it is expected that the deal will be ratified by a wide majority with the support of some opposition parties), the Leftist government will most likely face more hard times ahead.

Wednesday's front pages of local dailies reflected the mixed feelings of Greek citizens towards the new deal.

The most characteristic was the title on the front page of the pro-government "Avghi" (Dawn) newspaper - "Window for growth with heavy burden agreement. Sweet deal accompanied by bitter measures. "

The government that was elected eight months ago on an anti-bailout and anti-austerity platform now argues that the painful deal was the only credible solution for Greece at the moment to keep the country afloat and in the euro zone.

"We will prove doomsayers wrong and we will rebuild the country, " Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday during a meeting at the Ministry of Infrastructure, appearing confident over the success of the new bailout.

However, even a part of his ruling radical left SYRIZA party remains unconvinced. Several SYRIZA MPs are expected to vote against the agreement as it happened in July with the July 13 euro zone summit deal.

Although the government dismisses talk of a party rift that could force snap general elections in September, Health Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis on Wednesday and other leading SYRIZA members insisted that the polls were "unavoidable" to clear the picture and move forward.

Representatives of the real economy backed a painful deal to avoid political uncertainty that would once again derail efforts to stabilize the economy and restore growth.

"The new bailout is the launching pad for a final opportunity for Greece," Vassilis Korkidis, the President of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) which represents small- and medium-sized Greek companies, commented on Wednesday.

Korkidis suggested a supplementary "national strategic growth plan that will collectively bind Greek political leaders and society for the next years."

However, on the other hand, trade unions were categorically against the new agreement. The umbrella union of civil servants ADEDY called for a protest on Thursday outside the parliament during the vote.