Newspaper article International New York Times

Greek Leftists Bridle at Deal Emerging in Brussels ; Resistance Presents a Big Hurdle for Tsipras as Negotiations Intensify

Newspaper article International New York Times

Greek Leftists Bridle at Deal Emerging in Brussels ; Resistance Presents a Big Hurdle for Tsipras as Negotiations Intensify

Article excerpt

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday faced anger and resistance from members of his own radical-left political party, complicating his efforts to strike a deal this week with Greece's creditors.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece on Tuesday faced anger and resistance from members of his own radical-left political party, complicating his efforts to strike a deal this week with the country's creditors, as some lawmakers and party officials criticized concessions by the Greek side and expressed doubts about voting for a deal in Parliament.

Mr. Tsipras returned to Athens on Tuesday afternoon, after negotiations in Brussels brought predictions that an agreement would be completed by the end of the week, in which creditors would unlock bailout funding so that Greece can stave off default in exchange for concessions on tax increases and pension changes. Less clear, if critical in the eyes of Greek leaders, is a potential European promise for future debt relief.

But with negotiations still underway in Brussels, Mr. Tsipras must ultimately sell any final deal to his Syriza Party. Syriza rose in recent years from the left-wing fringes of Greece's political landscape to take power in January elections, after vowing to repeal the economic austerity policies demanded by creditors in exchange for bailout loans.

Now some Syriza members -- as well as political opponents -- are accusing Mr. Tsipras of perpetuating austerity, rather than overturning it.

"If the text remains as is, Syriza's members of Parliament will have problems voting for it," said Ioannis Zerdelis, a Syriza lawmaker from Lesvos. "I personally would have a moral problem voting for it."

Another Syriza lawmaker, Giannis Michelogiannakis, speaking on Greek television, described some of the proposed measures in the deal as "crimes."

On Tuesday evening, Mr. Tsipras briefed some party and government officials about the developments from Brussels.

Earlier in the day, his spokesman, Gabriel Sakellaridis, said Syriza's entire parliamentary delegation would be briefed after a deal is finalized, which could occur when European leaders hold a summit meeting on Thursday in Brussels. Any deal would have to be approved by Greece's Parliament by the end of this week, he added.

Mr. Sakellaridis told Greek television that the prime minister expected a "governmental majority" for any final deal, noting that a failure to achieve one would mean calling snap elections, throwing Greece into disarray. "We won't reach that point," he predicted.

Mr. Tsipras has always faced a major political challenge.

European creditors have shown little inclination to roll back austerity policies or to make major concessions in negotiations. At the same time, Mr. Tsipras has faced pressure from within Syriza not to compromise -- with some Syriza members openly calling for Greece to default on debts and leave the eurozone, positions not supported by most Greek citizens. …

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