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Violence continues as Greece passes austerity bill

Posted in Featured, World

Published on July 16, 2015 with No Comments

Greek lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to approve a harsh austerity bill demanded by bailout creditors, despite significant dissent from members of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ left-wing party. The vote came after an anti-austerity demonstration by about 12,000 protesters outside parliament degenerated into violence.Riot police battled youths who hurled petrol bombs to control the situation.The bill, which imposes sweeping tax hikes and spending cuts, fueled anger in the governing Syriza party and led to a revolt against Tsipras, who has insisted the deal forged after a marathon weekend eurozone summit was the best he could do to prevent Greece from catastrophically crashing out of Europe’s joint currency.

The bill was approved with 229 votes in favor, 64 against and six abstentions – and won the support of three pro-European opposition parties. Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, who took over from Varoufakis the day after the referendum, said the deal Greece reached with its creditors on Monday was the only possible choice.

Prominent Syriza party members were among the 38 dissenters, including Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who many blame for exacerbating tensions with Greece’s creditors with his abrasive style during five months of tortured negotiations.

“I don’t know if we did the right thing. But I know we did something with the sense that we had no choice. Nothing was certain and nothing is,” he told parliament.

High-ranking dissenters included Alternate Finance Minister Nadia Valavani, who resigned from her post, sent a letter to Tsipras  and released by the finance ministry Valavani said she believed “dominant circles in Germany” were intent on “the full humiliation of the government and the country.”The economy ministry’s secretary general, Manos Manousakis, also resigned over the measures.Parliament speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou, a prominent Syriza member, slammed the deal as a product of blackmail, calling it a “crime against humanity” and “social genocide.”

Thursday’s vote came after more than two weeks of capital controls, with Greek banks and the stock exchange shut since June 29 and ATM cash withdrawals limited to 60 euros per day.With its banks dangerously low on liquidity and the state practically out of cash, Greece desperately needs funds. It faces a Monday deadline to repay 4.2 billion euros ($4.6 billion) to the European Central Bank, and is also in arrears on 2 billion euros to the IMF.

 

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