Greece lawmakers approve reform bill despite protests
The Greek parliament has approved fresh austerity measures demanded by international creditors, sparking fresh protests and clashes between police and demonstraters.
Greek lawmakers Monday adopted a controversial package of pension cuts and tax hikes hours before eurozone finance ministers were due to discuss whether Athens had met terms of a multi-billion euro bailout.
The overhaul bill was approved by 153 lawmakers of the ruling Syriza/Independent Greeks government coalition. All opposition parties in the 300-member Parliament voted against it.
The austerity measures are part of a package demanded by the European Commission, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund in exchange for an 86-billion-euro ($95 billion) bailout.
Greece has already received two bailouts in 2010 and 2012, worth a total of 240 billion euros (USD 272 billion).
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Sunday that Greece has “basically achieved” the goals of reforms required by the creditors.
Since the new measures were introduced by the government, the Greeks have been holding mass rallies to express their anger and frustration.
On Sunday, Greek riot police fired tear gas to disperse petrol bomb-throwing protesters in Athens as thousands took to the streets in anti-austerity demos ahead of the vote by lawmakers.
Hooded youths lobbed flares and Molotov cocktails at officers who responded with volleys of tear gas, AFP reported.
Sunday’s protest was one of the most violent rallies which took place outside the parliament building where some 10,000 protesters turned out to vent their anger at the latest reforms.
Police said more than 18,000 people rallied over the course of the day in the Greek capital, while around 8,000 turned out in the second city of Thessaloniki against the measures.
The debt-crippled nation has been in a state of economic crisis since 2009. Since then, Greece has witnessed a high unemployment rate and numerous protests.