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Greek Parliament approves third bailout deal as PM faces growing party dissent

The Greek Parliament on Friday ratified the country's third bailout deal since 2010 to secure vital international financing to remain afloat and stay in the euro zone.

The draft law, which contains the 85 billion-euro bailout that was agreed with international creditors on Tuesday, was approved 222-64 with 11 abstentions in a roll call vote.

The third bailout, which foresees a new round of painful austerity and reform measures, has received a mixed reaction in the country.

Some Greeks view the new bailout as the only lifeline available to avoid the worst, while others opt for the "quick death of bankruptcy" and quitting the euro zone rather than the "slow death of endless recessionary policies."

Addressing the Parliament shortly before the vote on Friday morning, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras defended the bailout as the only way to escape the specter of default and "Grexit" and restore growth.

"We assumed responsibility to stay alive instead of committing suicide. I do not regret fighting and choosing compromise over a dive from the cliff," the leftist leader said at the end of a heated marathon debate, which started in the early hours of Friday amidst intense bickering over the policies and procedural issues.

Despite his plea for a strong support to the bailout, Tsipras was forced to rely once again on the pro-euro opposition parties, as he faced growing dissent within his ruling radical SYRIZA party.

A total of 43 SYRIZA rebels voted "No" or abstained during Friday's critical vote, among them were several party heavyweights such as Parliament Speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou.

Shortly after Friday's vote, government sources told the Greek national news agency AMNA that the prime minister was considering requesting a new confidence vote after the repayment of the European Central Bank debt on Thursday.

At least a dozen SYRIZA rebels led by former Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis have announced their intention to form an anti-bailout movement.

The dissidents criticize Tsipras and the government of backtracking from the anti-austerity agenda that brought SYRIZA in power in the national elections in January.

With a SYRIZA split in sight, opposition parties and representatives of the business world call for wider cross-party national consensus and the creation of a new government from the current Parliament to avoid new elections.

Renewed political uncertainty will cause further delays in the implementation of the needed policies to stabilize and kick-start the real economy, they warned.

Uncertainty since the start of 2015 during the heated negotiations with lenders has already cost dearly to the Greek ailing economy and led to the introduction of capital controls this summer, they noted.

Greece today does not have the luxury of further prolonged uncertainty because its fate is still at stake, political analysts warned.

"Adoption of the new memorandum and, most importantly, its implementation will determine whether Greece remains a member of the euro area," Costas Iordanidis, co-founder of the local leading think tank ELIAMEP, wrote in an article in the Kathimerini newspaper.

"In fact, it would be more accurate to say that the new agreement will buy just enough time to see whether Greece will stay in the euro or switch back to the drachma (Greece's currency before the introduction of the euro)," wrote Iordanidis.

"Simply put, nothing is final. The country will try to find its balance on the surface of a political quicksand. Germany's stubborn Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has not given up on his idea of a temporary Grexit -- and other countries could follow suit," he stressed.

[Source: Xinhua, Athens, 14Aug15]

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