As tens of thousands of Greeks take streets, the Parliament says yes to further austerity measures
Greece’s Parliament passed a crucial austerity bill early yesterday in vote so close that it left the coalition government reeling from dissent, under the shadow of clashes between the police and angry protesters.
The bill, which will further slash pensions and salaries, passed 153-128 in the 300-member Parliament. It came hours after rioters rampaged outside Parliament during an 80,000-strong anti-austerity demonstration, clashing with police who responded with tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons, The Associated Press reported.
Approval of the cuts and tax increases worth 13.5 billion euros ($17 billion) over two years was a big step for Greek efforts to secure the next installment of its international rescue loans and stave off imminent bankruptcy. The country’s international creditors have demanded that the bill and the 2013 budget, due to be voted over the weekend, pass before they consider releasing an already delayed 31.5 billion euros installment from Greece’s 240 billion euros bailout. Without it, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras says Greece will run out of money on Nov. 16.
“Greece made a big decisive and optimistic step today. A step toward recovery,” Samaras said, adding that he was “very happy” with the result.
Development and growth for the country, which faces a sixth year of a deep recession in 2013, will come “only with a lot of work, with coordinated action, with investments,” he said.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle welcomed a sweeping austerity package passed by Greek lawmakers in a bid to unlock international aid needed to save the country from bankruptcy, Agance France Presse said, Hurriyet Daily reports.