Greek lawmakers approved another round of austerity measures necessary for the country to receive the next installment of bailout funds. The vote is intended to help prevent a default on debt repayments and comes after a day of violent clashes over the spending cuts that left 46 people injured.
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Prime Minister George Papandreou has said that Greece needs his 28-billion-euro austerity plan to recover and get back on its feet, BBC reports. The country could run out of money within weeks if lawmakers do not approve the austerity package, which includes deep spending cuts and tax increases.
Passage of the austerity plan and an implementation law on Wednesday and Thursday are conditions for Greece to receive the next installment of the 110-billion-euro bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
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Supporters of the bailout hope it will prevent a default in Greece that could have devastating consequences within the country as well as hurt European banks and the global economy.
"Both the future of the country and financial stability in Europe are at stake," Olli Rehn, a European Union commissioner, told CNN said in Brussels. "I trust that the Greek political leaders are fully aware of the responsibility that lies on their shoulders to avoid default."
"Voting these measures is required to maintain our credibility in the (bailout) process," Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos reportedly said ahead of the vote. "Voting for these measures, regardless of any reservations, is an important, brave act of political responsibility."
Greek protesters took to the streets of Athens on Tuesday to demonstrate against the austerity measures. Police clashed with protesters on-and-off for more than 10 hours, the Associated Press reports.
Authorities used tear gas to break up stone-throwing protesters around parliament and arrested at least 14 people.
Unions have initiated a 48-hour strike, which hit Athens' transportation system and other services, and are staging mass rallies.
"The situation that the workers are going through is tragic and we are near poverty levels," Spyros Linardopoulos, a protester with the PAME union, told AP. "The government has declared war and to this war we will answer back with war."
CNN reports that three unions have announced they also plan to rally Wednesday.
More than 5,000 police will be available Wednesday to prevent protesters from blocking lawmakers' access to parliament.