Greek government wins confidence vote before first bailout review

ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' government comfortably won a confidence vote early on Thursday, starting a race to pass key reform laws before Athens undergoes a crucial first review of its international bailout.

Greece has promised to implement the third bailout programme agreed with European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders in August in exchange for 86 billion euros($96.66 billion). It wants the first review to be wrapped up soon so it can start talks on a debt relief before the end of the year.

"We will quickly pass the hurdle of the first review, we will conclude the big issues of the bank recapitalisation and the debt and we will proceed at a measured pace to change Greece," Tsipras said in a speech before the vote.

"I'm convinced that we will make it," he said adding that the government aims to conclude the review within November.

Tsipras, who was re-elected on Sept. 20, won the backing of all 155 lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament who support his radical left-right coalition.

His parliamentary group will be tested in the coming weeks during votes on reforms, tax hikes and pension cuts that Greece must enact to qualify for 3 billion euros of bailout aid and to unlock 25 billion euros to recapitalise its banks.

The first set of 48 reforms needs to be turned into law by Oct. 15.

The leftist premier has promised to find ways to ease the social pain that the bailout will entail for the poorest Greeks and has vowed to find alternative measures for some of the unpopular policies sought by creditors.

He has also said he will bargain hard for debt relief.

Tsipras needs the debt restructuring to convince Greeks after seven years of economic hardship that he achieved something in return for performing a spectacular U-turn and accepting austerity conditions he had rejected in June.