Important Correction: Headline Should Read ‘Greek Prime Minister Purges Left-Wing Rebels to Bolster Divided Government’Posted: July 17, 2015
We Apologize for the inconvenience.
Meanwhile in Germany, Merkel pushes through support for unloved bailout despite repeated suggestions by her finance minister that Greece should quit the Eurozone.
Geoffrey Smith writes: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sacked some prominent left-wing rebels from his government Friday in a cabinet reshuffle following a party revolt against a tough new bailout deal adopted this week.
The 40 year-old prime minister dismissed Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and two deputy ministers after 39 Syriza hardline lawmakers refused to back the government over the measures, which were demanded by Eurozone partners as a pre-condition for beginning talks over a new bailout.
The main economic ministries remain unchanged, with Euclid Tsakalotos remaining in place at the finance ministry and George Stathakis staying at the economy ministry.
But Labor Minister Panos Skourletis, one of Tsipras’ closest allies, will replace Lafazanis in the key energy portfolio, where he will be responsible for sensitive privatization dossiers. Administrative Reforms Minister George Katrougalos will take over at the labor ministry.
The reshuffle had been expected ever since the party rebellion left Tsipras dependent on the votes of pro-European opposition parties to pass the bailout deal but it is not likely to change the uncertain overall outlook for the government.
Former Deputy Finance Minister Nadia Valavani, another bailout opponent who resigned earlier this week before the vote, was replaced by Tryfon Alexiadis, a leading member of Greece’s tax experts’ union.
The new ministers are expected to be sworn in on Saturday. Read the rest of this entry »
Groups of youths among the more than 12,000 anti-reality protesters smashed storefronts and set at least one car on fire
(ATHENS, Greece) — Elena Becatoros and Derek Gatopoulos report: Rioters hurled petrol bombs at police who responded with tear gas as an anti-austerity demonstration outside parliament turned violent Wednesday, while Greek lawmakers began debating contentious measures needed to start negotiations on a new bailout and avoid financial collapse.
“I must tell you, that Monday morning at 9:30, it was the most difficult day of my life. It was a decision that will weigh on me for the rest of my life.”
Groups of youths among the more than 12,000 protesters smashed storefronts and set at least one vehicle alight. The clashes were the first significant protest violence since the left-wing Syriza government came to power in January promising to repeal bailout austerity. Police said at least 50 people were detained.
“I don’t know if we did the right thing. But I know we did something with the sense that we had no choice. Nothing was certain and nothing is.”
— Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos
The protest was timed to coincide with the start of debate on the bill, which includes consumer tax increases and pension reforms that will condemn Greeks to years of more economic hardship.
The bill has fueled anger among the governing left-wing Syriza party and led to a revolt by many party members against Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who has insisted the deal forged early Monday after a marathon weekend eurozone summit was the best he could do to prevent Greece from crashing out of Europe’s joint currency.
“I must tell you, that Monday morning at 9:30, it was the most difficult day of my life. It was a decision that will weigh on me for the rest of my life,” said Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos.
“I don’t know if we did the right thing. But I know we did something with the sense that we had no choice. Nothing was certain and nothing is,” he said as the debate kicked off.
Civil servants protested with a 24-hour strike that disrupted public transport and shut down state-run services across the country. Read the rest of this entry »
After ‘No’ Vote Against Bailout, Yanis Varoufakis Steps Down
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned from his post Monday after Greek citizens voted to reject further austerity measures the day prior, the Associated Press reported.
“I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.”
— Yanis Varoufaki
Varoufakis said he was told shortly after the voters rejected Sunday’s referendum regarding demands by international creditors to impose further austerity measures in exchange for a bailout package for its bankrupt economy, that the other eurozone finance ministers and Greece’s other creditors would prefer he not attend the ministers’ meetings.
Varoufakis issued an announcement saying Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had judged that Varoufakis’ resignation “might help achieve a deal” and that he was leaving the finance ministry for this reason Monday.
Varoufakis is known for his brash style and fondness for frequent media appearances at the start of his tenure when the new government was formed in January. He had visibly annoyed many of the eurozone’s finance ministers during Greece’s debt negotiations.
“Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants… for my ‘absence’ from its meetings; an idea that the prime minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today,” Varoufakis wrote in a blog post, according to The Guardian.
“Like all struggles for democratic rights, so too this historic rejection of the Eurogroup’s 25th June ultimatum comes with a large price tag attached,” the post read, according to the Athenian newspaper Kathmerini.
“It is, therefore, essential that the great capital bestowed upon our government by the splendid NO vote be invested immediately into a YES to a proper resolution – to an agreement that involves debt restructuring, less austerity, redistribution in favour of the needy, and real reforms,” Varoufakis wrote. Read the rest of this entry »
Happening in Greece right now-almost 3am-people withdrawing as much cash as they can.
Standard and Poor’s sees a high risk that Spain, Italy, Portugal and France will not be able to carry through necessary reforms as the unemployed become less willing to put up with austerity, S&P’s Germany head Torsten Hinrichs told a newspaper.
“The high unemployment in Spain, Italy and France is socially explosive,” Hinrichs was quoted as saying in Monday’s Neue Osnabrcker Zeitung.
“There has to be a social consensus for saving measures. High unemployment … does not help.”
Hinrichs said the people of Spain and Portugal had already proven they were willing to bear with austerity measures, but “this cannot continue forever”.
In Italy, there was the further danger that “a new government may not be strong enough for the still necessary reforms to strengthen growth,” he said.
Hinrichs said S&P still rated Germany as a triple A with stable outlook and did not see any reason for concern: “It is one of the few AAA and stable countries that we still have in Europe”.
The weak profitability of the banking sector due to the profusion of banks was the only problem in Germany, he said, although he saw positive changes in the sector in terms of equity capital and refinancing.