Greek MPs back creditor-demanded reform plan to secure bailout

© Alkis Konstantinidis
Lawmakers in Athens have backed a second package of measures demanded by the country’s international creditors in order to secure a new bailout program and prevent Greece from being forced out of the eurozone.

The Wednesday night debate in the Parliament, and a vote during which Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras managed to secure over half of the votes, is clearing the way for further bailout negotiations.

The vote took place long after anti-austerity protesters departed after they had been rallying in Syntagma Square in central Athens near the parliament.

READ MORE: Anti-austerity protest in Athens as MPs vote for second bailout reform package (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

The peaceful rally gathered several thousand protesters who, amid a heavy police presence, condemned the bailout terms as an act of treason against people’s will, expectations and hopes.

PM Alexis Tsipras had a hard time convincing his Syriza party members that the deal was a fair compromise between the nation’s will and the possibility of Greece being kicked out of the euro if it does not obey.

“Conservative forces within Europe still insist on their plans to kick Greece out of the euro,” Tsipras told legislators, as cited by Bloomberg. “We chose a compromise that forces us to implement a program we don’t believe in and we will implement it, because the choices we have are tough.”

Still, 36 out of 149 Syriza deputies voted against the bill or abstained, compared to 39 who refused to back the first batch of reforms during last week’s vote. However, thanks to opposition and pro-euro parties’ support, the bill easily passed the legislators' vote.

READ MORE: Greece hopes to complete bailout talks by August 20

The Greek government has said that once parliament adopts the second round of austerity measures, bailout negotiations will immediately start and hopefully conclude by late August.

Greece is facing an additional €3.2 billion ($3.5 billion) bond repayment to the European Central Bank (ECB) on August 20, and the third bailout program worth some €86 billion ($94.1 billion), which is currently in question, will be vital to get by.