European markets rallied, as did the euro, amid expectations that Greece will secure a second bailout deal that should remove the immediate risk of bankruptcy.
Eurozone finance ministers are meeting on Monday. Some are said to doubt whether Athens can fulfil its spending commitments.
However, they are expected to approve a 130 billion euro rescue fund, as well as a plan to write off 100 billion euros of Greek debt.
The French Finance Minister François Baroin said the bailout package could not wait any longer.
“The first reason is that the Greek parliament met last week, and the government coalition committed itself in writing (to spending pledges), which is what we wanted. Also important structural reforms are underway – these will naturally have to be followed by laws – but political commitments have been made. The second reason it can’t wait is that in March Greece has deadlines to meet and could become bankrupt, a situation that France has been trying to avoid for 18 months.”
Sunday night’s anti-austerity protest in Athens drew fewer people than the tens of thousands who demonstrated a week ago, but once again there were clashes with police, although the violence was less serious.
For many Greeks the latest round of cuts – slashing more than three billion euros from pay, pensions, and health spending – is a step too far.