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Greek government soldiers on

Greek government soldiers on
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Greece’s government is now in a position to approve its austerity plan, having survived a confidence vote in parliament.

Headlines in Athens newspapers included: “Unconditional Surrender”, on the agreement to EU-IMF conditions for fresh aid, and “The Square Voted Against” — a reference to ordinary protesters in Syntagma Square.

Some Greeks are bitter; a man interviewed in Athens’ streets asked: “Is this a fair government we have today? They only think of foreign interests. It’s sad.”

Other are more optimistic. “It’s time for change in this country. Our systems lag way behind,” said a computer engineer. “People got used to years of votes for favours, under-the-table help. It’s time for us to become a modern country, like others. This is a big opportunity for us.”

But belt-tightening to avert the first sovereign debt default by a euro zone country is chipping away at public support for Prime Minister George Papandreou. His ruling Socialist PASOK party still has to put into practice a new five-year austerity plan agreed with international lenders.

Greeks outside the parliament said the politicians had betrayed them with public services cut back, 16 percent unemployment, and other measures that hurt the middle class and poor, in return the premier told them the vote of confidence was a contract of mutual commitment.