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Greece Debt Crisis: Far-left Rebels in Ruling Syriza Party Break Away to Form New Party

Syriza rebels will form a new party trying to govern Greece, local media reports.

Former Prime Minister and left-wing Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras stood down on August 20, paving the way for new elections.

The move came after Alexis Tsipras lost the support of many of his own members of parliament in a vote on the country’s new bailout with European creditors earlier this month.

Greek media reports say 25 rebel Syriza members of parliament will join the new party, called Laiki Enotita (Popular Unity).

The party will be led by former energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, who was strongly opposed to the bailout deal.

At a press conference in Athens, Pangiotis Lafazanis said he was ready to respect the result of a referendum held in July, in which 61% of Greeks said they would not support the terms of the bailout.Panagiotis Lafazanis breaks Syriza party

“If it is necessary for us to cancel the memorandum, we will follow the course of exiting the euro,” Pangiotis Lafazanis is quoted by Kathimerini newspaper as saying.

Syriza won 149 seats in Greece’s 300-seat parliament in the last election in January.

The conservative New Democracy party came second, with 76 seats.

The new Popular Unity party becomes the third largest in parliament.

In exchange for a new €86 billion ($95 billion) from European partners, Alexis Tsipras had to agree to painful state sector cuts, including far-reaching pension reforms – and keep Greece in the eurozone.

Close to a third of Syriza’s members of parliament abstained or voted against the terms of the new deal last week.

At the time, Panagiotis Lafazanis said he was determined to “smash the eurozone dictatorship”.

On August 21, the head of conservative New Democracy party, Vangelis Meimarakis, met Greece’s president and he will now have three days to form a government.

Observers say he does not have enough support and elections will be called.

Reports suggest the election – the fifth in six years – will be called for September 20.

If Vangelis Meimarakis fails to form a government, the chance will be given to the new party, analysts say, and then the far-right Golden Dawn party.

They, too, are unlikely to be able to gain enough allies to establish a government.

All parties can waive the right to negotiate and allow the president to approve a snap election.

Vangelis Meimarakis, however, has said he will try and use his mandate to form a government in the next few days.

Dimitris Stratoulis, one of the new members of Popular Unity, told Reuters that his party would also try to use the mandate and put a government together.