The Greek bill was the first step in meeting requirements for negotiations to start on a desperately needed third global bailout for Greece – a three-year 85 billion euros ($93 billion) package – that will prevent it from crashing out of Europe’s common currency.
The raft of consumer tax increases and pension reforms will condemn Greeks to years of more economic hardship and has fuelled anger among the governing left-wing Syriza party.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras battled to win lawmakers’ approval for a bailout deal to keep Greece in the eurozone, while the country’s creditors pressed by the global Monetary Fund to provide massive debt relief struggled to agree to a financial lifeline.
Thursday’s vote followed violent demonstrations on the streets of Athens overnight, with anti-austerity protesters clashing with police.
Greek banks could open for the first time in weeks as the nation’s parliament passed through the fresh austerity measures required to secure a €86bn bailout package from the eurozone.
Protesters stand in front of thre Greek parliament in Athens during an anti-austerity protest on Wednesday.
Tsipras pleaded for party unity in his speech before the vote, acknowledging that the terms of the agreement were harsh, but insisting that it represented the best choice available to Greece.
And Syriza’s hardline leftists, lead by Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, were reported by Greek media as braced to vote against the measures while calling for a return to the drachma.
The prime minister told MPs: ‘It is not for Britain to bail out eurozone countries and we wouldn’t do that.
Syriza won the January election on a promise to end austerity, and the government acceptance of more cuts drew an raging reaction from many of its lawmakers – though none of the attacks were aimed at Tsipras.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Wednesday that he would submit the bailout plan to the Spanish parliament, to ensure support among Spaniards for the funds they will be obligated to contribute to the Athens loan.
“We don’t believe in it, but we are forced to adopt it”, he said of the vote that paves the way for talks on a new multibillion euro bailout. European Union countries are awaited to approve the loan on Friday.