Tension on streets as MPs prepare to vote

There is a tense atmosphere in central Athens as thousands of protesters have gathered in front of Parliament while MPs prepare to vote on the government?s medium-term austerity plan.

There were clashes in the morning at several points around the city center as more than 5,000 police mounted a huge security operation to prevent protesters from blocking access to Parliament.

Demonstrators scuffled with police near the Panathenaic Stadium and the Hilton Hotel. Officers also used tear gas in Syntagma Square, the scene of violent clashes on Tuesday.

The latest austerity measures look set to pass through Parliament as a would-be rebellion by PASOK MPs appeared to die down.

Kozani deputy Alexandros Athanasiadis said he would definitely vote against the measures because he opposes the plans to privatize the Public Power Corporation.

However, New Democracy?s Elsa Papadimitriou said that she would vote in favor of the midterm fiscal plan. She appears to be the only opposition party deputy that will not toe the party line.

Dora Bakoyannis and her four Democratic Alliance lawmakers said they would vote ?present.?

The vote is set to take place at around 2 p.m. local time.