Greek parliament passes cuts plans

The Greek parliament has voted narrowly in favour of imposing more belt-tightening on its people in a bid to pay the nation's debts and stave off looming bankruptcy.

The Greek parliament has voted narrowly in favour of imposing more belt-tightening on its people in a bid to pay the nation's debts and stave off looming bankruptcy.



Opposition MPs heeded last-minute pleas from Prime Minister George Papandreou, that there was no alternative if the country was to continue receiving bail-out cash from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.



A "No" vote would have been catastrophic for the Greek economy and for the crumbling credibility of the euro - but the relief in Brussels and in other eurozone capitals will be short-lived if mounting public anger prevents the new austerity package taking effect.



The vote went through in the Athens parliament against a backdrop of rioting in the streets outside as police clashed with protesters opposing more tax hikes, spending cuts and a privatisation sell-off demanded by the country's international creditors.



New IMF chief Christine Lagarde had called for national unity in Greece to get to grips with the continuing economic crisis.



This afternoon's decision was one of the toughest Greek MPs have had to take for years - but another crucial vote comes tomorrow when the Parliament must decide on how to implement the 28 billion euro (£25 billion) package.



And effective implementation will be difficult if an increasingly rebellious public defies the deal and refuses to hand over more taxes or absorb more cuts to pay the price for an economic crisis they say was not their fault.









Nevertheless the 155-138 vote this afternoon should be enough in itself to ensure the handover of the latest 12 billion euro (£10.7 billion) instalment of an EU-IMF bail-out fund agreed a year ago and worth a total of 110 billion euro (£96.5 billion).



Greece has been warned for weeks that the latest slice of the money would be withheld without today's "yes" vote, allowing Greece to default on its debts within weeks.



Continuing with the payment should now be a formality when EU finance ministers hold a special meeting in Brussels on Sunday to decide the next step.



Greece desperately needs the latest aid by July 15 to meet its immediate debts, but already Europe is considering a second massive bail-out - probably worth more than the first - because of the scale of the crisis and the risk of "contagion" to other struggling eurozone economies.



But the scale of rioting on the streets of the capital and across Greece hint at serious difficulties to come for the Greek government.



Police used stun grenades and tear gas to quell crowds who gathered in front of the parliament, and the angry mood persisted after news of the vote was relayed outside the building.



The fear in Greek political circles is of a longer-term orchestrated campaign of public sector strikes which will worsen the crisis.



People taking to the streets of Athens today insisted that not only were they not to blame for the nation's deep economic crisis, but the first round of austerity measures had clearly failed to work and should not be extended.



UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said: "This vote is a real life Greek tragedy, keeping the country imprisoned inside an unsuitable currency union and with unserviceable debts.



"Greek democracy is dead. Don't be surprised if increasing numbers of Greek people take matters into their own hands."









The result was hailed as a "vote of national responsibility" by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.



In a joint statement they said: "With today's approval by the Greek parliament of the revised economic programme, the country has taken an important step forward along the necessary path of fiscal consolidation and growth-enhancing structural reform. But it has also taken a vital step back - from the very grave scenario of default. This was a vote of national responsibility."



But the statement made clear the danger is not over.



"Tomorrow, the eyes of Europe will again be turned towards Athens as parliamentarians are called upon to approve the implementing measures for the programme.



"A second positive vote would pave the way for the disbursement of the next tranche of financial assistance. It would also allow for work to proceed rapidly on a second package of financial assistance, enabling the country to move forward and restoring hope to the Greek people."



European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek said: "In years to come, this vote may be seen as a turning point for Greece and the eurozone. This was not an easy choice to make and I salute those who voted in favour of this tough reform package. They have shown remarkable leadership when it was most needed.



"All of us in the EU are in the same boat, and in this rough sea of financial turbulence, going below the deck will not shelter us from the storm. We must act together in the fight against the debt crisis.



"I hope that the vote on the implementation package will receive the same support tomorrow."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Call Handler

£14500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a Sales Ca...

Recruitment Genius: Registered Manager

£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This local charity has an oppor...

Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Marketing Manager / Product Owner

COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product Owner is required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Content Curator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a mobile television network wi...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash