Cyprus’s parliament has approved an EU bailout which includes provisions to impose substantial losses on richer bank depositors and wind down the island’s second largest bank.
It passed in parliament with a razor-thin majority of just two votes.
Outside about 300 demonstrators gathered, calling politicians “thieves”.
Some were supporters of the local communist party, which was in government until it lost presidential elections in February, and which voted against the bailout bill.
Nicosia is expected to get the first instalment of a total of 10 billion euros in aid from the EU and IMF in May. In return it must raise 13bn euros, largely through banking reform.
Government officials had warned the island would fall into chaotic default, unable to pay salaries or pensions, as early as next month without emergency funding.
“Unfortunately the (bailout) is a one-way street for us. It will avert disorderly default and gives, albeit with many hurdles, some prospect of getting us out of the storm,” said Averof Neophytou, head of the governing right-wing Democratic Rally party.
Opposition parties argued that the bailout would keep Cyprus in perpetual bondage to foreign lenders. A ‘yes’ from Cyprus’s parliament is by far the biggest defeat in our 8,000-year history,” said lawmaker George Perdikis of the Greens party.