30 Jun 2011

Greece passes drastic austerity vote

10:11 am on 30 June 2011

The Greek parliament has voted in favour of a drastic package of austerity measures intended to save the country from defaulting on its debts.

The proposed tax rises and spending cuts are deeply unpopular with the public but the package is needed to win more loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

A nationwide 48-hour strike is under way and violent clashes are continuing in the streets of the capital Athens on Wednesday, the BBC reports.

Greece is heavily in debt and the package is needed to win the latest tranche of a €110 billion loan.

MPs passed the measures by 155 votes to 138, prompting a furious response by protesters on the streets of Athens.

Parliament will hold a second vote on Thursday aimed at reforming laws to allow the package to be implemented.

MP and former World Bank economist Elena Panaritis says the government had no other option but to vote for more hardship for the people of Greece.

The European Union welcomed the vote, saying it is a vital step.