Greece?s Parliament approved in the early hours of Monday the country?s new loan agreement with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund despite more than 40 PASOK and New Democracy MPs voting against the terms of the deal.
Out of 300 lawmakers, 278 cast their ballot following several hours of intense debate. Of those, 199 voted ?yes? in principle, while 74 voted ?no? and five voted ?present?. The rest did not vote.
Twenty two PASOK MPs and 21 New Democracy deputies voted against the bill. In both cases, thoe lawmakers were expelled from their parties.
Former Transport Minister Makis Voridis and Deputy Mercant Marine Minister Adonis Georgiadis went against the line of their party, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), by voting for the bill. Both were expelled.
It was the first time in Greek parliamentary history that so many lawmakers were ousted from their parties on the same night.
The vote followed a tense debate in Parliament about the terms of the agreement, which include unpopular measures such as a 22 percent cut to the minimum wage and further reductions in pensions.
Prime Minister Lucas Papademos repeated his warning that if Greece did not take up the new loan agreement, it would face a «catastrophic» disorderly default.
The debate was overshadowed by an outbreak of rioting in central Athens that led to several buildings being set on fire and a number of shops being looted.
“Vandalism and destruction have no place in a democracy and will not be tolerated,» Papademos told Parliament.
“I call on the public to show calm. At these crucial times, we do not have the luxury of this type of protest. I think everyone is aware of how serious the situation is.”
More than 50 protesters and some 40 policemen were injured in the clashes, which disrupted a peaceful protest attended by tens of thousands of people.