Greek crisis: Syriza rebels break away to form Popular Unity party
by Jon Henley, Shane Hickey, and Alexandra Topping, The Guardian
Friday 21 August 2015 06.00 EDT
Rebels within Greece’s ruling party, the leftwing Syriza movement led by the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, have announced they are breaking away to form a separate entity called Popular Unity.
Angry at what they see as a betrayal of Syriza’s anti-austerity principles, the 25 MPs announced their intention to form a new party in a letter to parliament the day after Tsipras resigned to pave the way for snap elections next month.
Led by the former energy minister, Panagiotis Lafazanis, the new movement will be the third-largest group in the Greek parliament and could conceivably receive a mandate to try to form a new government.
Tsipras announced his resignation in a televised address on Thursday night. He said he felt a moral obligation to put Greece’s third international bailout deal, and the further swingeing austerity measures it requires, to the people.
Last week he piloted the punishing deal through the Greek parliament, but suffered a major rebellion when nearly one-third of Syriza MPs either voted against the package or abstained. Tsipras is gambling that he will be able to silence the rebels and shore up public support for the three-year bailout programme.