The people of Athens took it to the streets to show their politicians just how much they were against proposed budget cuts being considered in an attempt to get Greece some dough from it’s European neighbors.
Unfortunately, all that protest and violence didn’t make a bit of difference.
Greek lawmakers Wednesday approved a package of austerity measures demanded by international lenders, despite protests outside Parliament as they were voting, in a move that should clear the way for an emergency loan to Athens.
Greek riot police fired round after round of tear gas to keep small crowds of protesters away from Parliament in the run-up to the vote and as lawmakers one by one said “Yes” or “No.”
Angry demonstrators hurled stones at police, chanted, waved Greek flags and set small fires to protest the austerity measures, which include new taxes and job cuts.
Police on motorcycles patrolled in pairs as tensions rose, but both sides showed some restraint, with the majority eyeing each other warily rather than wading into the melee.
Riot police also clashed with stone-throwing demonstrators Tuesday, firing tear gas to disperse protesters during riots that left 21 police officers and one demonstrator injured.
The two-day general strike is continuing on Wednesday, with members of three major unions planning to march on Parliament after the vote.
Unions oppose the austerity package, but its backers say it is essential to the stability of the Greek economy, the euro, and the global financial system.
Greece has debt payments coming due in mid-July and has asked for an international bailout to be able to pay them.
Lenders including the International Monetary Fund and the European Union have demanded that Greece implement the five-year austerity package in order to get $17 billion in emergency funds.
Greece needs the bailout funds to avert a default on debt repayments that are due as soon as mid-July.
A default would send shock waves through the European banking sector and potentially dent global economic confidence.
Greece faces “a critical juncture,” said Olli Rehn, a European Union commissioner and the bloc’s lead negotiator on the bailout. He urged Parliament to pass the austerity measures.
“Both the future of the country and financial stability in Europe are at stake,” Rehn said in Brussels. “I trust that the Greek political leaders are fully aware of the responsibility that lies on their shoulders to avoid default.”
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Source // Photos: CNBC