Open Europe Blog

Following the dramatic vote by the Cypriot parliament tonight to reject the bailout deal, here is our flash analysis of the situation:


The Cypriot parliament tonight voted against a bill to introduce a tax on bank deposits, in return for a €10bn bailout offered to the country by Germany and other eurozone governments. Not a single Cypriot MP voted for the deal. The structure of the tax in the bill is shown in the table below. The vote leaves Cyprus’ place in the eurozone hanging in the balance and threatens the escalation of the crisis to a new level, though the most likely outcome is that the Cypriot parliament votes a second time, on a revised deal.

Results of the vote (click to enlarge)

The governing party (DISY) abstained (with one member absent), while the junior coalition partner (DIKO) voted against – this signifies the huge political divisions at work in Cyprus. Even if a bailout deal is eventually approved the government’s position continues to look untenable.

What does the vote against the deposit levy mean?

As we have noted before, this has the potential to be a very serious twist in the eurozone crisis. Previously, Germany and the eurozone have stressed that Cyprus has no alternatives to the deposit levy. Now, all eurozone partners are forced back into difficult negotiations.

What timeline are Cyprus and the eurozone working on?

Cyprus will run out of cash on 3 June, when it has to repay a €1.4bn international bond. However, the decision will need to be taken long before that. Cypriot banks cannot stay closed for long but they cannot be reopened until a decision is taken, otherwise there will almost certainly be a deposit run. While people can reportedly withdraw up to €700 per day from ATMs, businesses, large and small, cannot function without banks being open. We would expect some decision would need to be taken by early next week before the lack of liquidity and lack of economic activity begins to severely harm the Cypriot economy.

Would the ECB really pull the plug on liquidity to Cypriot banks?

The key turning point here will be whether the ECB cuts off Cypriot banks. It is to some extent the vital difference between option 2 and 4, while keeping liquidity on could help facilitate option 1. To pull the plug on ELA the ECB needs a 2/3 majority (15 out of 23 votes) at the ECB Governing Council. Although the Bundesbank and maybe the Dutch and Finnish central banks might vote to turn off the ELA a 2/3 majority is not certain. In fact since Mario Draghi took over the ECB it has not been particularly hawkish. Bloomberg reports that the ECB said after the vote: “The ECB reaffirms its commitment to provide liquidity as needed within the existing rules”. The crisis has shown so far that the rules of the ECB are incredibly malleable, so what exactly that statement means is unclear, but the vote could certainly go either way.

Click here to read our analysis in full, including four potential scenarios.

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