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Greek Parliament Approves Austerity Bill

by Steve Mullis
Feb 12, 2012

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Steve Mullis

The Greek Parliament has approved a crucial austerity and debt-relief bill to keep the country out of bankruptcy and remain a part of the eurozone.

The Associated Press reported the early details of the bill as "imposing harsh new austerity measures in return for a $171 billion new bailout agreement and related deal with private creditors to shave $132 billion off the country's national debt."

The New York Times says many lawmakers grudgingly voted for the bill:

Addressing Parliament shortly before a crucial vote, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos stressed that rejection of the bill would plunge the country into bankruptcy. He appealed to lawmakers to do their "patriotic duty" and make the "most significant strategic choice a Greek government has faced in decades."

Still, he acknowledged that the program was "tough and calls for sacrifices from a broad range of citizens who have already made sacrifices."

Dissent on the crucial vote caused Greece's coalition government to expel 43 deputies from its ranks in parliament.

The vote occurred after extensive rioting and looting swept through the Greek capital. At least 10 buildings were set on fire, dozens of police officers and at least 37 protesters were injured, 23 suspected rioters were arrested and a further 25 detained, the AP reports.

Reporting from Athens, where rioters are clashing with police, throwing petrol bombs and the air is thick with tear gas, NPR's Joanna Kakissis says she's even seeing protesters attacking other protesters.

"People came here really agitated to begin with ... so when fights started everything just went out of control after that," Kakissis says.

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