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Greek MP quits ruling party after crucial vote on austerity

English.news.cn   2012-11-08 19:12:37            

ATHENS, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- A Greek deputy of the socialist PASOK party quit the party's parliamentary group on Thursday, shortly after the assembly endorsed a fresh austerity package with a slim majority .

Mimis Androulakis made the decision as coalition partners face another crucial parliamentary ballot on Sunday over the 2013 budget which contains spending cuts and tax hikes under the 13.5 billion euro (17.3 billion U.S. dollars) package for 2013-2015 which was ratified in a midnight vote.

Androulakis backed the austerity measures which passed with 153 votes in the 300-member House on early Thursday, despite objections, but will vote down the budget bill as an independent, he told media in Athens.

He joins a group of seven MPs who voted against party lines on Thursday and were immediately expelled from the parliamentary groups of PASOK and the conservative New Democracy party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

The Democratic Left, the junior partner in the government, which cast 16 blank votes during Thursday's vote due to objections to part of the measures, has said that it will vote in favor of the budget.

However, coalition partners fear further "defections" which could deal a heavy blow to the government and complicate efforts to implement the ratified bills which are "prerequisites" for the disbursement of the next tranche of loans from European Union and International Monetary Fund.

The debt-crippled country is kept afloat with multi-billion euro aid since May 2010 in exchange of a tough austerity and reform program which has fuelled recession, unemployment and strong reactions by trade unions, opposition parties and ordinary citizens.

Tens of thousands took the streets of Athens on Wednesday evening as part of a 48-hour general strike, the third this autumn, in protest of the fresh cuts on wages, pensions and tax increases.

Mobilizations of various professionals, from taxi drivers and public transport workers to lawyers, continued on Thursday.

In interviews with local media in the mean time, government ministers repeatedly stressed that there was no alternative solution at the moment other than the endorsement of the painful policies, since the country is threatened with imminent bankruptcy without further international financing.

Greece's cash reserves run out on November 16. A Euro Group meeting on Monday is expected to decide on the release of a 31.5 billion euro (40.4 billion U.S. dollars) tranche which will push away the risk of default and an exit from the euro that would destabilize the entire euro zone.

Editor: znz
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