Crucial week for Greece’s bailout hopes

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Greece’s coalition government is facing two crucial votes this week in its effort to secure a portion of a bailout loan by creditors that will stave off threatened bankruptcy.

Along with the inevitable strikes that are expected at least through Thursday, and possibly throughout the week, the coalition has to rein in its own fractious MPs, with the smaller partner saying it will vote against the Omnibus Bill and the other two parties facing possible dissent within their ranks.

Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis reiterated his opposition to further cuts in wages, pensions, benefits and other labour market reforms contained in the Bill after a meeting late on Sunday with conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

This means he will vote against the whole Bill, since the government has decided to place all the Bill’s provisions in a single article in a “take it or leave it” message to the MPs.

“It is not my intention to cause a fracture in the government,” said Mr Kouvelis, who repeated that his party will not leave the government and will vote for the 2013 budget, which is contingent upon the spending cuts envisaged in the Omnibus Bill.

A vote on the Bill will most likely take place on Thursday and the budget vote will take place at midnight on Sunday.

Usually, Greece votes on the budget in the last session before the Christmas recess but has brought the vote forward and accelerated the debating schedule at the insistence of its Eurozone partners, who said it should do so before the meeting of Eurozone finance ministers next Monday.

Passage of the Omnibus Bill and the budget is necessary for Greece to finally get a delayed 31.5 billion euro (£25.2bn) instalment from the bailout aid, without which, as prime minister Samaras has said, the country will go bankrupt in mid-November.

Unions have called for a wave of strikes this week.