Anger in Athens as Greek austerity measures passed

The angry scenes came at the end of a two-day general strike called to oppose a €13.5bn (£10.7bn) package of cuts demanded by the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in return for a financial lifeline to prevent the government running out of money.

A riot police officer was engulfed in flames after a petrol bomb was thrown by protesters outside parliament.

It came after a night of rain, tear gas and clashes. But after four months of tortuous negotiations and a rancorous parliamentary debate, the Greek parliament finally announced late on Wednesday night that it had passed the most draconian package yet of austerity measures needed to keep Europe’s weakest economy afloat.

Following heady scenes inside and outside the 300-seat house, 153 MPs supported the €13.5bn (£10.8bn) package in a vote that will be remembered as perhaps the most electrifying in the history of the three-year Greek debt crisis.

Approval of the spending cuts, tax rises and labour reforms was given with a weakened majority – seven rebels voted against the measures – but on trade markets around the world there were signs of relief. Mandarins in Brussels said the ballot would pave the way to the release of €31.5bn in EU and IMF sponsored rescue funds – desperately needed to keep bankruptcy at bay.

“Greece today has taken a big, decisive and optimistic step. A step towards recovery,” said prime minister Antonis Samaras after the cliffhanger vote. “I am very pleased,” he told reporters before emphasising that the “next step” was passage of the 2013 budget in a vote on Sunday.


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