Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is to decide in the next 48 hours whether he will allow Parliament to vote on a four-month extension to Greece’s loan agreement or whether he will bypass the House altogether after signs of dissent within his party.
The government said on Thursday that it will wait for other eurozone parliaments to vote on the deal, a process which should be completed on Friday, before deciding when or if legislation paving the way for the loan extension would be submitted to the Greek Parliament.
Tsipras’s hesitancy comes after a meeting of SYRIZA’s parliamentary group on Wednesday that lasted more than 11 hours. During the debate about Greece’s new agreement with its lenders, a number of MPs expressed disagreement with the deal. At Tsipras’s insistence, a vote was held at the end of the meeting and some 30 of the party’s 149 lawmakers either voted against the agreement or failed to vote for it.
While it is unlikely that there would be such a big rebellion in an actual parliamentary vote, the signs of dissent have been enough to cause concern among Tsipras and his aides, who are even considering the possibility of not bringing the agreement to Parliament and finding another way of ensuring its extension.
“My opinion is that it should be brought to Parliament but I cannot tell you what will actually happen,” Minister of State for Coordinating Government Operations Alekos Flambouraris told Mega TV. He added that he would not expect more than three or four SYRIZA MPs to vote against the deal in a parliamentary ballot.
Tsipras also spoke on Thursday at a meeting of the party’s political secretariat, where there was a calmer mood. He is due to appear at SYRIZA’s central committee on Friday and Saturday, and party officials have asked to consult in depth with the body over key decisions.
The prime minister is under pressure from opposition parties, which are demanding to know whether he will bring the agreement with the lenders to Parliament. Both New Democracy and PASOK raised questions in the House on Thursday about the government’s intentions.