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Tsipras proposes referendum to heal Syriza rift

July 30, 2015

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called for his divided Syriza party to hold a snap referendum to overcome the divisions. Ructions appeared within the party following Greece's agreement with creditors this month.

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras in Athens
Image: Reuters/Y. Kourtoglou

Addressing Syriza's central committee on Thursday, Tsipras called for Syriza to hold an emergency congress next month, adding, however, that a referendum as soon as Sunday would be acceptable if leftist dissenters demanded a quicker solution.

"I propose to the central committee to hold an emergency congress to discuss being in power as leftists, our strategy in the face of bailout conditions," he told the 200-strong decision-making Syriza committee.

"But there is another view, which is respected, that doesn't accept the government's analysis and believes there was an alternative available in the early morning hours of July 13," the Greek prime minister said, referring to the day he accepted the bailout agreement to avoid a Greek eurozone exit.

Tsipras is believed, however, to be in favor of an emergency congress, as this would enable him to bring in new Syriza members and take advantage of the wider public support he has achieved over the past two years.

Far-left revolt

Tsipras' proposals on Thursday came amid mounting rebellion among Syriza's far-left lawmakers. They accuse the party of betraying its anti-austerity roots by agreeing to the conditions of the country's 86 billion euro ($94 billion) bailout deal.

Earlier this month, over 30 Syriza lawmakers refused to vote for reforms which are necessary for Greece to receive the financial aid. Included in the tough measures are wide-ranging market reforms, numerous spending cuts and tax increases.

Tsipras defended the government's decision to agree to the creditors' conditions, however, saying that a "Grexit would have forced Greece into devaluation and returning to [the] IMF for support."

"We were forced to compromise and accept a recessionary program that was not our choice," he added.

ksb/kms (Reuters, AFP, AP)