Greek Parliament backs austerity package [update]

The Greek Parliament has passed the government?s medium-term fiscal plan, seen as crucial for staving off bankruptcy, on a day of high tension both inside the house and in Syntagma Square outside.

Government fears of a rebellion within the ruling PASOK party did not materialize and several of the deputies who had indicated that they would oppose the new austerity measures changed their position at the last minute, which meant that 155 deputies voted in favor of the plan and 138 against.

Panayiotis Kouroublis was the only PASOK lawmaker who voted against the package but this was balanced by New Democracy deputy Elsa Papadimitriou supporting the midterm fiscal plan.

Prime Minister George Papandreou ousted Kouroublis from the party.

Papadimitriou made it known that she was also quitting the conservatives and would continue in Parliament as an independent.

Kozani MP Alexandros Athanasiadis, who had said he would vote against the bill because he opposed the privatization of Public Power Corporation, switched and cast his vote in favor of the government.

Democratic Alliance leader Dora Bakoyannis and her party?s four MPs voted ?present?.

The government now has to pass the implementation law for the measures through Parliament on Thursday to secure Greece?s next loan installment, worth 12 billion euros, from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

The passage of the legislation will also pave the way for the EU and IMF to finalize the details of a second bailout for Greece.

Meanwhile, clashes persisted outside Parliament between riot police and furious protesters. Police fired volleys of tear gas to push back demonstrators that were pelting them with bottles, trash and chunks of marble.

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