PASOK welcomes vote, defends Papoutsis

PASOK spokesman Panos Beglitis on Monday welcomed the approval by the Greek parliament of a deeply unpopular austerity bill to secure a second EU/IMF bailout and avert default.

Beglitis urged both socialist and conservative deputies who support the provisional administration led by economist Lucas Papademos ?to continue and intensify the national effort at a very difficult period to help the country come out of the crisis.?

During a tense vote that was completed in the early hours of Monday, 199 of the 300 lawmakers backed the controversial bill, but 43 deputies from PASOK and New Democracy coalition partners, rebelled by voting against It. They were immediately expelled by their parties.

The debate was overshadowed by an outbreak of rioting in central Athens that led to several buildings being set on fire — including several historic buildings, a book shop, and a movie theater — and a number of shops being looted.

Some 67 suspects have been arrested and 75 detained in connection to the riots.

Beglitis on Monday condemned the violence but defended Citizens’ Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis against calls that he should resign.