Greek lawmakers on Wednesday voted for a massive new austerity package demanded by international creditors, amid violent clashes between protesters and police firing tear gas outside the parliament.
Prime Minister George Papandreou’s government got the 151 votes it needed to push through measures to save ¤28.4-billion ($40 billion) by 2015, and unlock emergency finance from the EU and the IMF.
The yes vote was “the only way to buy time and start the great changes this country needs,” Papandreou said in the moments before voting.
Papandreou’s Socialists lost one vote among their 155 lawmakers, but also won backing from one opposition MP.
Thursday will see a second vote on the detail behind the measures. The plan is a condition for ¤12 billion of emergency loans needed by mid-July.
New IMF chief Christine Lagarde had urged opposition MPs to support the government and vote for the package, saying the measures were needed to save Greece’s “destiny”.
There are hardly any private buyers for Greek assets within Greece or the EU, prompting many in Greece to look at China and other foreign investors.