Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza party looked set to split after the leader of its far-left faction called on Thursday for a new movement to fight a bailout deal that lawmakers are expected to vote on in the coming hours.
With euro zone finance ministers also due to decide on Friday on the bailout, the International Monetary Fund made clear it would participate in the program only if Europe agreed to ease Greece’s huge debt burden.
Days after striking a deal with foreign creditors, Tsipras is asking parliament to approve a bailout agreement that pledges tax rises and spending cuts in exchange for 85 billion euros ($95 billion) in fresh loans. It would be Greece’s third financial rescue program in five years.
The vote will test the strength of a rebellion by anti-austerity Syriza lawmakers, which could raise pressure on Tsipras to call elections as early as September.
Parliamentary speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou, one of the Syriza hardliners who opposes the deal, snubbed a request from Tsipras to speed up handling of the bailout bill so that it can be voted on well before the euro zone finance ministers meet in Brussels.
The plenary session finally got underway in parliament at 2 a.m. (2300 GMT) after Konstantopoulou raised a series of procedural questions and objections, meaning no vote can be held at least until well into the early hours of Friday. But lawmakers were still bickering over procedure and debate on the substance of the bailout bill had yet to begin.