Amidst violent protests in the streets of Athens and elsewhere, the Greek parliament has passed another austerity programs to abide by the terms of a $170-billion bailout offered by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
In approving the measure, Greece has likely averted a disastrous default. Lawmakers also okayed a measure to forgive 100-billion euros of debt held by private investors and banks.
The ruling PASOK party, which holds about 230 of 300 seats in parliament, strongly supported the bill.
The austerity bill calls for, among other things, 15,000 cuts in public sector jobs; and a 20 percent reduction in the minimum wage.
However, more austerity has enraged the Greek public as well as opposition politicians who have recently resigned from the government. Protesters have tossed petrol bombs and stones at police and government buildings, some of which were set on fire.
At least 80,000 protesters demonstrated in Athens against the bill, with another 20,000 in Thessaloniki. Associated Press and Reuters reported that scores of police and protesters have been injured in the running battles.
Greece's Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, who strongly recommended passage of the bill, urged calm.
Vandalism, violence and destruction have no place in a democratic country and won't be tolerated, he told parliament ahead of the vote.