Greece Passes New Austerity Measures as Athens Burns

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Even as more than 40 buildings across Athens were set ablaze by angry protesters, the Greek Parliament passed a series of strict austerity measures meant to save the country from financial ruin. The package includes harsh cuts in the minimum wage and layoffs of over 150,000 government workers and are part of deal to secure bailout funds and debt forgiveness from foreign lenders. Despite the violence and chaos and angry debate in Parliament, the measure passed easily, mostly because the ministers who were opposed either resigned or were forced out of the country's two ruling coalition parties.

Protesters set fire to several historic buildings with petrol bombs and threw rocks at the house of Parliament. Police responded with tear-gas and bottled in rioters who responded with more fire bombings. Greek officials says that more 50 police officers were injured, while 70 others had to be take hospitals, and 45 arrests were made. Other cities also saw protests as disapproval spread across the country.

The feeling around Greece is that the national economy is being gutted to appease banks, mostly in Germany, and that the pain of the cuts is not worth being beholden to outside interests. Meanwhile, many of those same banks and other European leaders worry that even with the new measures, the country could still default and eventually leave the Euro, taking other weak countries like Italy and Spain down with it. The markets seem to be responding positively to the vote, despite growing evidence that austerity in other European nations, like the United Kingdom (which is not on the euro) has been a miserable failure and Greece's past efforts to implement austerity have not gone well, contributing to the current state of their massive debt.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.