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GREECE

Tsipras loses support in Syriza over bailout compromises

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athenes, on 23 June 2015.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athenes, on 23 June 2015. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

With less than a week left to strike a deal, Greece and its creditors are reported to still be nowhere near reaching an agreement to avert default.But while the negociations are harsh in Brussels, the Greek prime minister is having a tough time convincing his anti-austerity party to approve concessions to unblock bailout funds.

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Analysts are now wondering if Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras could lose the support of his own party.

The question is on everyone’s mind since any agreement would have to be approved by a parliamentary majority before 30 June.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

“If Alexis Tsipras and his colleagues accept what they are being offered now, I think there will be a big divide in Syriza and I think they’ll go for snap elections” says Tariq Ali, a veteran Pakistani-British left-wing activist and writer, currently visiting Athens.

Former prime minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday dismissed the idea that there could be elections but called for a unity government to be put in place.

Syriza currently holds 149 out of 300 seats in the Greek parliamenent and has an alliance with the 13 MPs of the right-wing Independent Greeks party.

Tsipras, who was elected on an anti-austerity platform, has made a lot of compromises during negotiations with the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank and is losing support in his party.

One lawmaker from Tsipras' party has already publicly declared that he will vote against the proposed deal.

Alexis Mitropoulos, a Syriza MP and the Parliament VP, said on Mega TV "it would be hard to adopt the deal as it is now".

“Syriza’s support depends on what the government will do,” notes Tariq Ali. “The IMF has insisted on more conditions being added, which means more cuts in social welfare and social expenditures, and everyone, including some people on the right, is shocked by this. The EU would like to remove the Syriza government and put the old gang in power”.

But not every analyst agrees with Ali’s opinion.

“This will be a difficult agreement to pass but I think they will manage to get support for it, especially if a reference to the release of the debt is made,” says Stella Ladi, a scholar with the Greek Politics Specialist Group. “So, depending on the on the exact phrasing of the agreement, it’s going to be more or less difficult”.

Numerous voices in Greece are calling for the prime minister to take a stronger stance against the IMF.

“He has a choice,” says Tariq Ali. “He can say ‘what you’re doing now is one step too far’. Even the former conservative prime minister did not accept it when they tried to make him do this. For Tsipras to accept this is suicide. Maybe he doesn’t realise it but that’s what will happen.”

Thousands of people took to the streets on Tuesday to protest the government's negotiating stance, especially the number of new taxes the government has promised during negotiations.

But Tsipras hasn’t lost everybody’s support.

“There are two camps in reality,” says Stella Ladi. “There’s the camp supporting the harsh negotiations of the government, and the camp that wants to stay in the eurozone. This is because the government, and its prime minister, have been solely focusing on the negotiations. I don’t think they have managed to present a modernising agenda to the people. They have passed legislation, which are not very inspiring to put it mildly. It makes it even more difficult for people to support an exit from the eurozone, a default and a break of the negotiations.”

The Greek government seems to realise it might lose its support, both in the streets and in parliament.

On Thursday it withdrew some of its proposals, including an unpopular increase in pensions contributions.

But that, of course, made it harder for a deal to be reached.

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