GREECE VOTES YES BUT PM WOUNDED
GREECE has gone cap in hand to its European lenders for new emergency funding after pushing a harsh austerity package through parliament.
Hundreds of anti-austerity demonstrators amid a 12,000strong throng clashed with riot police in central Athens after Greece’s parliament voted 229-64 early yesterday to install sweeping sales tax hikes and pension cuts.
Eurozone finance ministers were to hold a conference call yesterday to consider rescue financing for Greece, while the European Central Bank mulled a request from Athens to increase aid to Greek banks, which have been closed since June 29.
Greece’s left-wing Government admitted it faced a “serious division” within its senior ranks after 38 members of the ruling Syriza party defied Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to vote against the reforms.
The Government indicated dissenters in Mr Tsipras’ Cabinet would be swiftly replaced in a frontbench reshuffle. The majority of the “yes” votes came from Greece’s pro-European opposition parties.
Mr Tsipras said he had little choice other than to accept the harsh terms offered by lenders for the new three-year bailout worth €85 billion ($128 billion).
“We had a very specific choice: a deal we largely disagreed with, or a chaotic default,” he told parliament.
Parliament speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou slammed the deal as a product of blackmail, describing the additional poverty it would cause as an act of “social genocide”.
Greece faces a Monday deadline to repay €4.2 billion to the ECB and is also in arrears on a €2 billion loan to the International Monetary Fund. Negotiations on the new bailout will take four weeks. European finance ministers are scrambling to find ways to get Athens some money sooner.