Despite worsening violence and anti-government protests, Greece's parliament approved austerity measures needed to receive a European bailout.
A peaceful, yet loud, 48-hour strike organized by labor unions has become a violent clash between hooded youths and police in Athens. On Wednesday, protesters attempted to storm the offices of the Finance Ministry near Syntagma Square. The capital city square is outside Greece's parliament building and it has been the rallying point for activists during many recent protests.
Around 30 people from the rally used sticks and cobblestones to break windows in the finance building.
There and elsewhere, police fired teargas at demonstrators, many of whom came prepared and were donning face masks and gas masks, or had smeared cream on their faces. As they have done in the past, protesters threw stones and bottles at the state forces. Many tried to pass through metal barriers that had been constructed by the police.
According to Reuters, Syntagma Square looked like a battle zone.
Under the advice of Prime Minister George Papandreou, Greek MPs passed the austerity measures by 155 votes to 138.
Papandreou's Socialist party had a five-seat majority going into the vote, meaning that a few opposition MPs voted for the bill. The austerity measures will raise around 28-billion euros through budget cuts. The vote also assures that Greece will receive a 11-billion euro bailout from the IMF, part of a larger 100-billion euro package.
An estimated 80 percent of the Greek people were against the austerity measures, which would cut public spending and affect pensions.
More than 5,000 police amassed outside of parliament during the vote, protecting the building from irate youths. Protesters set fire to cars and garbage bins in Athens. The King George Hotel has been evacuated.
On the island of Crete, protesters attacked a Socialist party building, wreaking havoc inside.
At least 50 people have been injured in the events so far. Sixteen people have been hospitalized and more than twenty-five arrested.