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Greek Leftists Break Away From Ruling Party In Row Over Austerity

Former Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis speaks during a news conference at Parliament in Athens, Greece, on Friday. He's leading rebels who decided to break away from the ruling Syriza party over objections to an international bailout plan.

Leftist Greek lawmakers who split with the ruling Syriza party to oppose an international bailout plan say they will form their own party to contest elections called by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who is seeking a fresh mandate for the government and the controversial deal.

The BBC reports:

"Greek media reports say 25 rebel Syriza MPs 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, reports say.

"A list of MPs joining the party published by the Ta Nea newspaper showed that the parliamentary speaker Zoe Konstantopulou and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis were not among its members."

The move comes after Greece's president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, offered the conservative opposition a chance to form the next government. However, as The Wall Street Journal notes, "No alternative majority excluding Syriza is plausible, but the constitutionally required procedure could drag on for days."

WSJ writes:

"In Popular Unity's first news conference, Mr. Lafazanis claimed to represent the majority of Greeks who voted against the creditors' bailout terms in a July 5 referendum, only to see the government sign a similarly tough bailout deal a week later. 'For us, the "no" vote in the referendum has not been defeated,' Mr. Lafazanis told reporters. 'The 'no' vote will not be an orphan in the elections.'

"Popular Unity proposes scrapping Greece's bailout agreement and opposes repaying the majority of Greece's debt, Mr. Lafazanis said. 'If needed we will leave the eurozone in a coordinated way,' he said. 'The idea that the exit from the eurozone will be hell is a demonization. There are many countries outside the euro.'"

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