Thursday, November 8, 2012
Greek Lawmakers Pass Austerity Deal
November 7, 2012
Greek lawmakers approved a multibillion-euro austerity package, clearing the way for the country to secure more bailout funds, but the measures also threaten to deepen the country's brutal recession and destabilize the country's fragile politics.
Violent clashes erupted between riot police and protesters as tens of thousands gathered in the square outside Parliament to voice their opposition as politicians inside debated legislation that would impose deep cuts in pensions and public-sector wages and clear the way for laying off thousands of civil servants.
For more than an hour, police staged running street battles with hundreds of hooded, self-styled anarchist youth in and around the square, firing volleys of tear gas and stun grenades as protesters hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails. Even as the clashes spread outside, a stormy parliamentary debate inside was interrupted by an impromptu strike by parliament workers objecting to a last-minute amendment by the government to bring their wages in line with the rest of the public sector.
The package will deal a fresh blow to an economy whose output has shrunk by more than a fifth since the country's debt crisis began. The government says the cutbacks will contribute to a 4.5% contraction next year, but many economists argue the damage could be much greater.