Greece is facing a crucial day for its financial future as parliament votes later on Wednesday on new austerity measures aimed at appeasing the country’s international creditors, the EU and the IMF.
Prime Minister George Papandreou has told MPs to do “their patriotic duty” and back the 78-billion-euro package so the country can qualify for more bailout funds.
But the premier’s rallying cry has done little to quell the anger on the streets. The capital Athens saw its worst rioting in a year on Tuesday night. At least 46 people were injured. Disturbances carried over into Tuesday, with police using tear-gas in an attempt to disperse some protesters. There were even clashes between demonstrators; union members reported being attacked by what they described as groups of anarchists.
Unions are 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, claimed 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.
If lawmakers fail to agree a deal, Greece is expected to run out of money within weeks. However there are signs that the legislation may well pass through parliament, with at least one conservative opposition MP saying on Tuesday lunchtime that she would vote in favour of the plan.