The Greek Parliament passed a second round of austerity measures today, amid mass protests outside the Parliament building. The protests include extending taxes to minimum wage workers, cutting government employee salaries, along with other spending cuts. The ruling Greek Socialists voted virtually en masse for the measure, securing a 155-138 vote. Just one Socialist, Panayiotis Kouroublis, voted against it, and he was expelled from the party as a result.
The proposed tax hikes and spending cuts have been deeply unpopular with the Greek public.
A nationwide 48-hour strike is under way and violent clashes are continuing in the streets of the capital, Athens […]
Mr Papandreou says his austerity plan is the only way to get Greece back on its feet.
“We must avoid the country’s collapse at all costs. Now is not the time to step back,” he told deputies.
Fear tactics basically got this one passed. The EU and the IMF threatened to withhold bailout payments until this vote passed, meaning the Greek government would have defaulted on their debt within weeks. The story today about risks to money market funds in a default may have clinched it.
In addition to the austerity measures, Greece is “selling the family silver,” putting airports, ports, railways, motorways, sewage works, national energy companies, banks, and the national lottery up for sale in a privatization push they hope will net 50 billion euros. However, private equity firms turned up their noses at the first offer of sale. Perhaps they’re looking for discounts, or they want to change the rules of hiring and firing even further in an effort to break the unions.