A multi-bill of new austerity measures passed into law late on Thursday night with the support of all 153 coalition MPs, paving the way for the release of further bailout loans and talks on debt relief.
In a speech ahead of the vote, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spent less time defending the highly unpopular bill than on rallying the party troops by outlining his government’s plan to lead the country out of its years-long crisis.
Dismissing sharp criticism from New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whom he called a “false prophet,” the leftist leader insisted that the deal clinched with the country’s international creditors earlier in the month offered a way out of the crisis. He also reiterated that if Greece isn’t given a concrete roadmap on debt relief then it will not implement the measures it has agreed to.
In his speech to Parliament, Mitsotakis accused the government of orchestrating “the biggest political fraud the country has ever known.”
“Vote the measures yourselves,” Mitsotakis told coalition MPs. “The fourth memorandum is all yours.”
He called on Tsipras and his government to quit after approving the measures. “Let the people decide with their vote who can lead the country out of the crisis and how,” he said, effectively reiterating his call for early elections.
As politicians argued about austerity, thousands of people protested outside Parliament.
According to police estimates, some 12,000 people took to the streets, about the same as for Wednesday’s general strike.
Thursday night’s rallies were marred by an outbreak of violence when unidentified assailants hurled firebombs at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier outside Parliament, setting alight one of the guard boxes manned by the elite presidential guard, or Evzones.
Clashes ensued between hooded youths and police, who fired tear gas.