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Property tax passes but coalition loses another MP in process

A new property tax, which unites previous levies and seeks to raise more than 2.5 billion euros in revenues next year, was approved by Greek Parliament on Saturday but the government lost another MP in the process.

The bill received the support of 152 lawmakers as one coalition MP voted against it and another did not take part in the ballot.

While there will be relief within the government that the property tax, crucial to the coalition’s fiscal plans, passed through Parliament, this will be tempered by the fact that the two-party administration’s majority has been reduced further.

New Democracy lawmaker Vyron Polydoras was ousted from the party’s parliamentary group for failing to vote in favor of the unified property tax. The former public order minister had made it clear on Friday that he would not vote for the bill.

“What sort of policy is this when you step on homeowners' throats?” he said. “Do you expect me to vote for this?”

His ousting brings the coalition down to 153 lawmakers in the 300-seat Parliament. New Democracy has 126 deputies and PASOK 27.

PASOK lawmaker Apostolos Kaklamanis was not present at the vote. It was not immediately clear why he was absent but reports suggested that illness kept him away.

The government faces another test later in the day, when MPs are due to vote on the partial lifting of a ban on home foreclosures. The ballot is expected to take place at around midnight.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras had earlier refused to make last-minute adjustments to the bill by reducing the size of penalties for citizens who owe money to the state.

Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis spent much of Friday and Saturday tweaking the bill so that the minimum mortgage payments for poor households would be slightly lower than that foreseen in the original draft.

ekathimerini.com , Saturday December 21, 2013 (14:30)  
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