Athens lawmakers approve second bailout deal | News | DW | 21.03.2012
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Athens lawmakers approve second bailout deal

Parliamentarians in Athens have agreed to a second bailout deal, the latest stage in efforts to prevent a national default. However, opposition to austerity measures shows no signs of disappearing.

Greek lawmakers approved a new bailout deal late on Wednesday that will see the country receive 172 billion euros ($227 billion) in rescue loans.

The vote went 213 to 79 in favor of the new agreement, with deputies supporting the coalition government of socialists and conservatives roughly according to party affiliations.

Although austerity measures linked to the latest bailout have proved unpopular, Deputy Finance Minister Philippos Sachinidis said there was no other option than to press ahead with them.

"There is no other solution. If anyone has an alternative, let them come forward," Sachinidis told parliament ahead of the vote.

Eurozone countries last month finalized details of the second loan package, which follows one that was agreed in May 2009. The latest amount agreed includes 42 billion euros in unpaid debt from Greece's first rescue deal.

Opposition remains ahead of elections

A tense debate on the austerity measures in February saw them narrowly adopted, despite fierce objections from the Communist Party, which maintains its opposition.

The latest vote was accompanied by protests by Communist Party supporters, with anger over budgeting measures such as the redundancies of state employees and a sweeping program of privatization.

The four-month-old coalition led by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is expected to call a general election for late April or early May. Support for non-coalition, anti-bailout politicians - from both the extreme right and the hard line Communist left - has surged during the country's economic crisis.

Meanwhile, seamen called off additional strikes planned after the second day of their first 48-hour stoppage ended on Wednesday morning after receiving written assurances about austerity plans from the government. The action had stopped ferry and ship services to and from Greek islands since Monday.

rc/pfd (AP, dpa)