The first tranche of the new Greek bailout program, the third in five years, was disbursed on Thursday on time allowing Athens to repay its maturing debts to international creditors, the finance ministry announced.
The announcement came as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was holding a meeting with his close aides and advisors to examine the prospect of calling snap general elections this autumn, government sources said.
Following the ratification of the new 86-billion-euro-worth (96 billion U.S. dollar), three-year bailout by the European Support Mechanism on Wednesday evening, the first loan installment of a total of 26 billion euros was paid out, the national Greek news agency AMNA reported.
About 13 billion euros were allocated to a special account at the Bank of Greece to automatically repay a 3.4-billion-euro debt to the European Central Bank (ECB) due on Thursday, a 2.2 billion euro debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the rest to pay off the 7 billion euro bridging loan ESM granted to the country in July.
Furthermore, 10 billion euros in the form of European Financial Stability Facility bonds will be used to recapitalize Greek banks, while one billion euros will be used for the payment of overdue obligations of the Greek government to the private sector.
The development clears the way for the premier to decide on his next steps in the domestic political scene, analysts in Athens noted.
According to government sources, Tsipras was considering requesting a new confidence vote in his government soon and, in case of failure to win back his party's "rebels", will call snap elections for September or October.
With dissidents within the ruling Syriza party openly blasting the government of making a U-turn on the anti-austerity platform that brought the party to power last January, early polls seem almost inevitable, according to cabinet ministers, opposition parties, and local media.
According to government sources, Tsipras was thinking about calling a ballot as early as Sept. 13.
The second idea is to hold the elections later in October so that the government passes some bailout policies through the parliament first, on time for the first assessment by creditors that will pave the way for the discussion on the Greek debt relief.
In order to ensure that the measures will be ratified by the assembly with no problems from Syriza MPs (members of the parliament), the premier could close the plenary so that the draft bills are put to vote in reduced summer parliamentary sessions where he can control the appointment of Syriza deputies.