Parties prepare to debate terms of Greece's new bailout

PASOK and New Democracy are due to convene meetings of their parliamentary groups on Friday ahead of a vote on Greece’s new loan agreement, which is set to take place on Sunday. PASOK MPs are due to meet at 4 p.m., while their ND counterparts are expected to gather at 8 p.m. Commentators are waiting to see if the PASOK chief George Papandreou and the head of ND Antonis Samaras will attempt to enforce party discipline in an attempt to ensure there is no serious rebellion during the vote. It is not clear if the coalition government’s junior partner, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), will support the loan agreement in the House. LAOS leader Giorgos Karatzaferis is due to give a news conference on Friday to clarify his position. Samaras on Thursday reiterated his call for elections as soon as possible “Never has Greece needed elections as much as it does today,” said Samaras, whose party is the second largest in the government’s shaky coalition but is leading in opinion polls. In his speech, Samaras claimed credit for foreign creditors’ backing down on pension cuts and said his party had succeeded in making a second bailout deal with the troika less onerous.

“We fought to avert more recession, more unemployment, more business closures,” he said. Many ND cadres, however, were not satisfied. ND deputy Yiannis Manolis resigned as party secretary for trade union issues in protest at Thursday's deal. In PASOK, dissent appeared to be even stronger, with fears that several MPs who are unlikely to be re-elected will vote against the new measures. Deputy Labor Minister Yiannis Koutsoukos, a PASOK lawmaker, resigned from the interim government, saying he disagreed strongly with some of the terms of Greece’s new bailout. Koutsoukos said that some of the measures included in the deal were unconstitutional, breached treaties and went against European norms. He also blasted the role of the International Monetary Fund, saying it was “beholden to its own ideology” and “serving certain interests.”

He accused the Washington-based fund of ignoring the impact that the measures would have on the deep recession in Greece. A first vote on the new package of measures, the debt swap -- known as PSI, for private sector involvement -- and the recapitalization of banks is due to be held on Sunday. A second vote -- on the implementation of the new measures -- is expected to be held within the two weeks of the first ballot.

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