PM’s comments on need for accord on key issues fuel speculation

20 November 2015
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Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday appealed for “a minimum of political consensus” in a televised exchange with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, a comment that fueled speculation his government would reach out to the opposition after losing two MPs in a bailout vote on Thursday night.

“On the crucial issues, the refugee crisis… the Cyprus problem, Greek-Turkish affairs, the [Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia] name issue, and of course on crucial social issues, the pension system, education, there must be a minimum of political consensus,” Tsipras told Pavlopoulos.

The meeting came just a few hours after his government passed a final set of prior actions linked to up to 12 billion euros in rescue loans, a 2-billion-euro bailout tranche and up to another 10 billion euros for the recapitalization of Greek banks.

The vote came at a cost as two MPs broke ranks with the government and were ousted, reducing the coalition’s majority in Parliament to three.

The timing of Tsipras’s calls for political consensus, and the fact that he referred to the pension system, which must undergo a radical overhaul in the coming weeks in line with creditors’ demands, spurred speculation that he might seek opposition support for the most contentious of the reforms Greece must approve.

A source close to the prime minister, however, denied that he was seeking a broad political consensus. “We’re not seeking support from the establishment,” the source said.

As Greek officials and representatives of the country’s international creditors prepare to discuss a new set of prior actions that is set to include higher taxes on farmers, it remained unclear on Friday when a decision will be taken on the release of up to 12 billion euros following the approval of a multi-bill in Parliament on Thursday night. Sources indicated that a decision might be taken over the weekend.

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