Bailout gets rough welcome in Greece
Greece’s left-wing government launched a frantic 24-hour effort late Tuesday to push more austerity measures through parliament and meet demands from European creditors as it faced down mounting anger at home.
The belt-tightening measures, which include higher sales tax rates on everything from condoms to race horses, were agreed upon with eurozone leaders to prevent the Greek economy from collapsing, and as part of planned third bailout worth 85 billion euros ($93 billion). It means recession-hit Greeks will have to pay more for most goods and services by the end of the week.
Unions and trade associations representing civil servants, municipal workers, pharmacy owners and others called or extended strikes to coincide with Wednesday’s vote in parliament. Hard-liners in Prime Minister Tsipras’ own Syriza party were in open revolt.
Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis said lead eurozone lender Germany and its allies had acted like “financial assassins” by forcing the deal on Athens, and urged Tsipras to reject it.
“The deal is unacceptable,” Lafazanis said. “It may pass through parliament ... but the people will never accept it and will be united in their fight against it.”
Pro-European opposition parties have pledged support for the bailout bills in parliament, but Tsipras could effectively lose his majority in parliament, weakening his ability to push through measures he had himself vehemently opposed until a few weeks ago.