Jul 23, 2015 7:35 AM

Greece parliament passes reform bills needed to open bailout talks

Greece approved a second prior actions bill on Thursday that was demanded by creditors before they negotiate a third rescue package in a parliamentary vote of 230 to 63 and with five voting present.

The bill was widely expected to be approved as it was supported by the main opposition parties, but Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also managed to contain further defections from his own party, Syriza, and stay on in his post.

Still, Tsipras lost 39 of his MPs last Wednesday, 32 of who voted no and five voted present. Tsipras acknowledged that if he would fall below the 120 minimum majority threshold in this vote, he would resign.

As the prior actions approved early Thursday concerned only the Civil Action Code reform and the adoption of banking consolidation regulations, Tsipras managed to contain his party’s leaks and reduce the votes against to 36 from 39.

The parliamentary vicotry gives Tsipras some breathing space to begin negotiations with creditors for the third bailout package as soon as Friday. The deadline to finalize a deal is Aug. 20 when the next repayment to the European Central Bank is due.

In a speech prior to the vote, Tsipras said the package will include an agreement on debt restructuring and rules out a Greece exit from the euro zone

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