PASOK passes key property tax bill

The government on Tuesday managed to push an unpopular new property tax into law with all 154 lawmakers of ruling PASOK backing the bill and one independent MP, former conservative New Democracy deputy Elsa Papadimitriou, backing the measure. A total of 142 MPs voted against the tax with three deputies boycotting the roll call.

The vote was widely seen as a test for the embattled government, which must push a slew of equally controversial measures through Parliament in the coming weeks. These include a civil servants? labor reserve scheme, which puts 30,000 public workers on heavily docked wages for the next 12 months ahead of a status review.

The government?s success last night indicated that party dissenters had been won round, though some MPs suggested that they would not necessarily back further measures. A few hours before the roll call, Yiannis Vouros, PASOK deputy for Athens, said his vote constituted ?a last chance? for the government. Many other critics are believed to have reconsidered over fears of being ejected from the party.

Shortly after the vote in Parliament last night, demonstrators clashed with police during an anti-austerity rally.

The property tax has provoked a large backlash by citizens on low- and medium-incomes, many of whom claim to be unable to pay the levy.

The tax, which is to be applied annually through 2014 and will be added to electricity bills to facilitate its collection, is seen raising 2 billion euros this year alone. It is expected to cost the average family between 800 euros and 1,500 euros, according to their property?s location and size.

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