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Greece's new Syriza-led govt survives no-confidence vote

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers a speech during a parliamentary session before a vote of confidence at the parliament building in Athens, Greece, Oct 8, 2015.

[ATHENS] The government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras survived a no-confidence vote early Thursday morning, bolstering the left-wing leader as he gets down to implementing reforms demanded by creditors.

The governing coalition of the premier's left-wing Syriza party and the nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL) used their 155-strong majority to pass the motion through the 300-seat parliament.

The vote wraps up three days of debate, which were largely for form's sake after Mr Tsipras in July signed Greece up to a roadmap of budgetary overhauls agreed with the IMF and EU in return for further bailout funds.

His agreement to further belt-tightening sparked a rebellion by the left wing of his party, prompting the government to call fresh elections which Syriza comfortably won last month.

Before Thursday's vote, Mr Tspiras said his primary goal was to implement reforms demanded by Greece's creditors, allowing them to "to conclude the recapitalisation of the banks by the end of the year and begin talks on debt restructuring".

The 41-year-old premier also welcomed comments from French President Francois Hollande, who on Wednesday told the European Parliament that the deal struck between Athens and Brussels should now become "a discussion on debt servicing".

Mr Tsipras argues that the quickest way for Greece to regain its economic sovereignty is to keep its commitments to its creditors, so Athens can begin negotiations with the EU and IMF on restructuring its unbearable debt burden.

In July, Athens signed up to more tax hikes and public spending cuts in return for a three-year, 86-billion-euro (S$136.3 billion) EU bailout - its third since 2010.

In a sign that the sense of crisis has passed after Greece came close to the brink of economic collapse this summer, the Bank of Greece on Wednesday hailed signs of an improvement in the liquidity of Greek banks and a stabilisation of deposit flows.

On Monday, Greece agreed to a series of measures to be implemented by mid-October to unlock the first tranche of two billion euros from its latest international rescue package.

This will be followed swiftly by another billion euros, provided further conditions are met, as part of an initial 26-billion-euro package approved by creditors in August.

Ten billion euros were set aside for the recapitalisation of Greece's banks and another 13 billion euros was immediately put towards repaying debts to the IMF and European Central Bank.

The bailout is conditioned on a series of controversial reforms, including reforming state pensions, tax increases on farmers and privatisations of cherished state companies.

The full programme must have parliament's backing "by around October 15," government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said Wednesday.

Addressing parliament Tuesday evening, Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said the reforms would weigh heavily "on numerous social groups" but said it was important to move ahead "quickly and successfully".


Read more on the Greek crisis here