Spanish Congress approves third EU bailout for Greece

Ruling Popular Party blocks European reform debate proposed by the Socialists

Luis de Guindos during his address to Congress on Tuesday.
Luis de Guindos during his address to Congress on Tuesday.Julián Rojas

Spain’s Congress on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the third European Union bailout for Greece, with just 20 deputies from the Plural Left grouping and smaller left-leaning nationalist parties from the regions opposing the €86-billion rescue package approved by the Eurogroup on August 14.

Anti-austerity party Podemos said it would have voted in favor of the Greek rescue package

Spain is set to contribute €10.148 billion to the package.

Podemos, the Spanish anti-austerity grouping that performed well in regional elections in May and faces its first general election in November, said it would also have voted in favor of the Greek rescue package if it had representation in Congress.

“We would not go against the wishes of the Greek people,” said Tania González, a Podemos member of the European Parliament.

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Podemos has identified itself with Syriza, the party led by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and opposes the austerity measures imposed on Greece by Brussels in return for financial support. But the Greek parliament has given its backing to the third bailout plan.

Economy Minister Luis de Guindos took advantage of the session in Congress to warn against what he called the “illusions” and “siren songs” of “populism,” a clear reference to the Greek government, and by extension, Podemos.

There are “no short cuts in the EU” and only “fiscally responsible policies” would work, said De Guindos, who added that “being part of monetary union demands responsibility and respect for the rules.”

Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo also attacked Podemos, saying any alliances between the leftist grouping and the Socialists after November’s general election “would be a catastrophe of biblical proportions for this country.”

The Socialist Party and Podemos reached partnerships to govern in several towns and cities in the wake of the May 24 regional and local elections.

The Popular Party (PP) also used its absolute majority during Tuesday’s session to reject Socialist Party proposals for a debate over the content of reforms aimed at greater integration within the EU.

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