The Greek parliament has passed a five-year austerity plan that will allow the country to receive international bail-out money to keep it solvent.
In total, 155 MPs voted in support of the plan, defying angry protests outside the parliament building in Athens. 138 lawmakers voted against.
Of the ruling socialists, only one voted to oppose the austerity package of tax increases and spending cuts. He was later suspended from the governing PASOK party. Prime Minister George Papandreou told MPs yesterday to do “their patriotic duty” and back the first chapter in the 78-billion-euro package.
But the passing of the austerity plan is likely to do little to quell the anger on the streets. Athens saw its worst rioting in a year on Tuesday night. At least 46 people were injured. Unions are also staging a 48-hour general strike which has brought the country’s public services and transport links to a standstill.
The port of Piraeus is also affected as trade unionists are blocking tourists from boarding ferries for a second consecutive day. Thanassis Evagelakis, a boat mechanic, said the government was becoming “more violent” in its attacks on low income families. “These policies are eroding the rights of the working class as a whole,” he said.
Lawmakers had been warned by the Greek and other European governments that had they failed to agree a deal, Greece would have run out of money within weeks.