European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and head of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy have welcomed the Greek parliament’s endorsement of a sweeping range of cuts designed to avoid the country defaulting on its debts.
“With today's approval by the Greek Parliament of the revised economic programme, the country has taken an important step forward along the necessary path of fiscal consolidation and growth-enhancing structural reform,” they said in a joint statement.
They added that tomorrow all eyes of Europe will again be turned towards Athens as parliamentarians are called upon to approve the implementing measures for the programme.
“A second positive vote would pave the way for the disbursement of the next tranche of financial assistance,” they said.
The Greek parliament voted yes today in favour of necessary cuts that will lead to the release of €12bn in EU/IMF bailout loans to help stave off a default.
The move passes the first of two bills to approve a mix of spending cuts, privatisations and tax increases as part of an overall €120bn deal.
Before the vote, the government of Prime Minister George Papandreou received a boost when one of three rebel deputies from his PASOK party backtracked on his previous opposition and said he would vote for the package.
In addition, conservative opposition member Elsa Papadimitriou also said she would vote in favour of the plan – going against her party’s stance.
Following the vote, riot police fired volleys of tear gas at swarms of people hurling rocks and setting fire to rubbish containers.
Police with truncheons occasionally charged the demonstrators, but pulled back just as quickly.
And stun grenades boomed and flashed as the crowds booed and jeered.
Most of the anti-government protesters who marched to the square stayed clear of the fighting.
But Greece still faces massive headwinds following the move.
Tomorrow, the Greek parliament will vote to implement laws to push through the fiscal measures in more detail.