Protest leaders injured as MPs pass austerity package

Greek police fired tear gas after a union leader was struck and hurt by youths during protests against the government’s austerity measures. MPs voted for the cuts budget after less than a day’s debate on Friday.

Police and protesters on Wednesday
Police and protesters on Wednesday Reuters

The package was adopted “in its entirety and on an article-by-article basis," said parliamentary speaker Filippos Petsalnikos, without giving voting figures.

The ruling party, Pasok, has a majority of 10. The main opposition party, New Democracy, which has 91 seats, said it was opposed to two of the bill's 20 articles, while the 21-seat Communist party walked out at the start of the debate.

Prime Minister George Papandreou, in Germany to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper that he was "not asking for money".

"We need support from the European Union and our partners to obtain credit on the markets at better conditions,” he said. “If we do not receive this aid, we will not be able to enact the changes we foresee."

Luxembourg's Jean-Claude Juncker, who acts as the eurozone’s financial chief, said Friday that he believes the Greek measures mean that Athens will not now need EU aid.

In Athens union leader Yiannis Panagopoulos was punched and had water and coffee thrown at him while addressing strikers on a protest against the cuts.

Another protest leader, wartime resistance hero and former left-wing deputy Manolis Glezos, was rushed to hospital after he was sprayed with tear gas, police said.

Angered by the attack, protesters threw projectiles at riot police guarding the parliament. The police fired tear gas at them.

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