ATHENS - Greece’s Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition, following orders in lockstep, narrowly approved the final round of austerity measures demanded by international lenders to free more monies from a third bailout of 86 billion euros ($96.28 billion).
The government, which includes the far-right, marginal, jingoistic, pro-austerity Independent Greeks (ANEL) kept its three-seat majority intact to garner 153 votes in the 300-member Parliament to prevail in passing 20 undone reforms that were part of a package of 140.
As before, a handful of alleged SYRIZA dissidents who barked they were unhappy about reneging on anti-austerity promises and violating party principles did so anyway and backed the additional measures.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose popularity has hit rock-bottom for constant concessions to the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) he vowed to defy, hopes the latest backdown will lead to debt relief talks as well when Eurozone finance chiefs meet on June 15.
The review was supposed to have been finished by November, 2016 but droned on after Tsipras desperately tried to resist the measures he agreed to in July, 2015 after seeking and receiving the rescue package after reneging on an anti-austerity referendum backed by voters.
Among the new measures is a freeze on pension until 2022 and taking away collective bargaining rights for workers Tsipas swore he would keep in place as he continued to hack away at the country’s most vulnerable sector, the workers, pensioners and poor while the rich, tax cheats and politicians continue to largely escape sacrifice.
Only 83 of the remaining 147 lawmakers in Parliament voted against the measures as those from the KKE Communists and Democratic Alignment (former PASOK) walked out in protest although the Socialists, serving the New Democracy Conservatives in an earlier coalition, also supported austerity and paid a crushing price for it as their party disassembled.
A roll call vote process was held, following a request by main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, while amendments tabled as riders to an unrelated bill related to political parties’ financing and e-auctions were passed by a majority vote, Kathimerini said.
The freeze on pensions, the most “painful” of the latest austerity measures passed by the Tsipras government, are calculated as translating into a loss of 250 million euros for beneficiaries, given the projected rates of inflation until that year, it was reported.
Addressing Parliament before she led her MPs out, PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata accused the government of lying to the Greek people and said its approval of additional measures had “humiliated” the administration.
New Democracy chief Kyriakos Mitsotakis - who also previously supported austerity - said now however that that “society cannot take any more” and reiterated his call for early elections.