Greece passes crucial bailout vote as country burns
The Greek parliament approved a deeply unpopular austerity bill to secure a second $130bn (£110bn) bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund and avoid a messy default.
The 200-74 vote was passed against a backdrop of serious violence on the streets Athens and in other Greek towns and cities, including the holiday islands of Corfu and Crete.
Fire-bombs and tear gas greeted negotiations at Greek Parliament on Sunday over the contraversial loan and austerity package which sets out €3.3bn in wage, pension and job cuts for this year alone.
More than 45,000 protestors, many facing steep cuts in pensions, wages and a bigger fall in living standards besieged the building in two demonstrations. A minority were met with tear gas by the 4,000 policemen after throwing fire bombs.
Inside emotions ran high over the price the country was being forced to pay for its second bail out, a EURO130bn (£108bn) loan from the EU and the International Monetary Fund to head off the threat of bankruptcy and withdrawal from the euro.
Finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, in a passionate appeal for support before the midnight vote, said: "We must show that Greeks, when they are called on to choose between the bad and the worst, choose the bad to avoid the worst."
The Greek cabinet unanimously approved the package on Friday after six members resigned. Laos, the small nationalist party headed by Giorgios Karatzaferis withdrew support but with the two main parties continuing to back the draconian measures Prime Minister Lucas Papademos was anticipating winning parliamentary approval.
But the Government still faces a tight timetable to meet terms and conditions tied to the loan and meet a Friday deadline to accommodate a deal with bondholders and repay an outstanding E14.4bn bond by the March 20 cut off date...(continued at link)