Greeks protest again as leaders back further budget cuts

Tens of thousands voice anger at second set of austerity measures in a week


Greece endorsed a painful 2013 budget of spending cuts demanded by its international creditors, as thousands of demonstrators gathered in Athens to vent their anger at the government's handling of the financial crisis.

The budget, which includes sweeping cuts to pensions, wages and social services, is the second of two crucial steps Greece has taken in the past week in an effort to persuade the International Monetary Fund and other Eurozone countries to release the next €31.3bn tranche of bailout funds. A comfortable majority, 167 lawmakers of the 300 seat Parliament, voted for the budget late last night.

"We took a decisive step with greater unity, from now on: recovery and growth," said Premier Antonis Samaras after the vote.

However, in Syntagma Square near the city's parliament building last night, protesters chanted slogans such as "Take your bail out and leave", while others held banners that read "Plan B: yes to work, and no to the Euro" and "Down with the junta of Prime Minister Samaras". Crowds were far less than last Wednesday, when at least 80,000 protesters had gathered to oppose the country's latest package of austerity measures, worth €13.5bn, also demanded by the country's creditors. Despite much debate over whether they would accept the measures, Greek MPs narrowly passed the package, and two of the ruling parties – New Democracy and PASOK – expelled seven MPs for voting against it.

Mihalis Vergitsis, a high school teacher who attended last night's protests, said continued industrial action and protests were pivotal in influencing political developments.

"The strength of this government is already weakening: they could barely vote in favour of austerity so it will be very difficult for them to implement the measures," he said. "We must fight: pensioners and workers can't be the ones shouldering the entire burden of this crisis."

Athens has been banking on a meeting of Eurozone finance ministers today to approve the release of the next bailout tranche in order to repay €5bn worth of maturing debt on Friday, among other payments.

Without help, Mr Samaras, has warned the country would go bankrupt by the end of November.

"I'm going to Brussels armed with 167 votes," Finance minister Ioannis Stournaras said after the vote. "I expect a political statement in favour of the loan disbursement."

Meanwhile, Germany's Finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the 17 countries that make up the Eurozone need more time to approve the release of the loan.

First, the "Troika" of auditors from the European Union and International Monetary Fund need to complete their report on Greece's progress and then, the Parliaments of some of the Eurozone countries will need to approve the loan.

"We are not responsible for the urgency (of the situation). All those concerned have known the deadlines for a long time," he explained in an interview with a German newspaper. "All of us in the eurozone and the IMF want to help Greece… but we will not let ourselves be put under pressure."

The country's creditors are still trying to resolve a deadlock on how they meet Greece's future financing needs.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam