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Greece passes key vote

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Greece passes key vote

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The Greek parliament has voted in favour of a drastic package of austerity measures intended to save the country from defaulting on its debts.
The proposed tax hikes and spending cuts have been deeply unpopular with the Greek public.
A nationwide 48-hour strike is under way and violent clashes are continuing in the streets of the capital, Athens.
Greece is heavily in debt and the package is needed to win the latest tranche of a 110bn-euro (£98bn) loan.
MPs passed the measures by 155 votes to 138, prompting a furious response by protesters on the streets of Athens.
Parliament will hold a second vote tomorrow aimed at reforming laws to allow the package to be implemented.
Ahead of today’s vote, Prime Minister George Papandreou urged MPs to approve the package by consensus.

He had faced wavering support from within his governing Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok), which has a slim majority, with 155 seats out of 300 in parliament.
But in the end, only one Pasok deputy voted against the package. There were two abstentions, while five deputies merely noted they were present.
Papandreou says his austerity plan is the only way to get Greece back on its feet.
“We must avoid the country’s collapse at all costs. Now is not the time to step back,” he told deputies.
Were his 28bn-euro austerity package to be rejected, Greece could run out of money within weeks, as the EU and the International Monetary Fund want the measures implemented before they release more funds to help Greece pay off its vast debts.
Top EU officials welcomed the result as a “vote of national responsibility”, saying it had pulled Greece away from the “very grave scenario of default” while paving the way for a second aid package. (BBC)