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Greece seeks bailout deal by August 20, sends bill to parliament

Alexis_Tsipras_2013The Greek government said Tuesday that it wants to see a final deal on its international bailout hammered out by August 20, as it presented parliament with more draft legislation on the cash-for-reforms agreement.

Lawmakers are due to vote on a second batch of reforms Wednesday in a fresh test of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ authority, after he suffered a major rebellion in his radical-left party Syriza during a vote on a first tranche of bailout measures last week.

After parliament has voted on the second bill — which must pass if Greece is to receive the bailout worth up to 86 billion euros ($93 billion) over three years — the government “will immediately resume negotiations with the (lender) institutions, EU, ECB and IMF, which should take until August 20 at the latest,” said government spokesman Olga Gerovassili.

Tsipras managed to push the first series of unpopular reforms through parliament last Wednesday — including sweeping changes to Greece’s taxes, pensions and labour rules — but only with the help of pro-European opposition parties.

Within Syriza, 32 of the party’s 149 MPs voted against the measures, and a further six abstained.

The second bill includes an EU directive, adopted after the financial crisis in Cyprus in 2013, that guarantees bank deposits up to 100,000 euros ($108,000), as well as civil justice reforms designed to speed up legal proceedings and reduce their costs.

Civil servants’ union ADEDY said it would stage a protest against the bill on Wednesday evening during the emergency debate in parliament.

Athens agreed last week to carry out tough reforms in exchange for a massive third bailout aimed at keeping Greece from crashing out of the eurozone.

Analysts forecast that Tsipras’ coalition government, which teams his party with the nationalist Independent Greeks, will be forced to call early elections if the revolt within Syriza continues.

But the administration, in power for only six months, hopes to see a smaller rebellion in Wednesday’s vote.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reshuffled his cabinet on Friday to fill the vacancies left by three members who were sacked after voting against the first batch of reforms.

Gerovassili said on Monday that elections would not be “useful at the moment,” adding: “The government has no intention of organising any.”

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