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The austerity bill struck to earn Greece a new bailout and stay in the Eurozone was approved by that nation’s Parliament, but not without stiff opposition from members of the prime minister’s own party. Protesters condemned the austerity bill, clashing with police. Meanwhile, an IMF report has raised doubt about the implementation. Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.
In Greece today, protesters clashed with police, as the prime minister struggled to persuade Parliament to approve the financial bailout deal he negotiated with his country's creditors.
The deal contains austerity measures that would hit Greek consumers hard.
PBS NewsHour special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from Athens.
Throughout the day, they marched to the Greek Parliament, condemning the austerity bill, with its tax hikes and public pension changes.
PANOS GARGANOS, Socialist Workers Party:
The Greek people have expressed themselves through the ballot box twice that they reject austerity. And despite this, they are getting the worst package we have had over the past five years.
As evening fell, trouble began, youth throwing Molotov cocktails, and riot police firing back with tear gas, their goal, to stop the deal that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras struck on Monday with Greece's creditors in a bid to earn a new bailout and stay in the Eurozone.
Even Tsipras criticized the agreement on Greek television last night.
PRIME MINISTER ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Greece (through interpreter):
I am telling you right now, it is my responsibility that I signed a text I do not believe in. However, I am obliged to implement this text, because right now I must guarantee at least that the country and social groups shall not face destruction.
But in Parliament today, the leftist leader faced the stiffest opposition from members of his own Syriza Party.
RACHEL MAKRI, Greek Parliament Member, Syriza Party (through interpreter):
There is no doubt that there is no way for me to say yes on a despicable agreement which will drive more Greek people to poverty and will destroy the development and social fabric of the country, whatever is left of it from the last five years.
At least two members of the government resigned, rather than back the bailout deal. That left Tsipras relying on support from opposition parties, and even some of them strongly oppose the new economic measures. Greece's finance minister tried to win over doubters today, underlining the potential benefits to Greece.
EUCLID TSAKALOTOS, Finance Minister, Greece (through interpreter):
This is a tough agreement. This is an agreement which only time will show whether it's economically viable. There are concerns about recession. There are concerns, but, under certain conditions, the combination of measures may finally lead to growth.
Any incentive the Greeks have to fully implement the austerity measures imposed by Europe have been completely undermined by a report from the International Monetary Fund. It says that Greece's debt is unsustainable, that the country may have to take a 30-year break before making any repayments, and that the creditors may have to take a haircut.
This is an analysis with which Germany, Europe's biggest player, totally disagrees. Moreover, some in Greece warns that the instability of Tsipras' government may delay any bailout funds.
Nikos Konstandaras is the editor of Kathimerini, Greece's most respected newspaper.
NIKOS KONSTANDARAS, Editor, Kathimerini:
But if we go into a period of great political uncertainty, I think that the European money will have to hold off to see what's happening, who will own the program and who will run the reforms and the austerity that needs to be carried out.
Adding to the air of misery today, a 24-hour strike which crippled public transportation and even shut down pharmacies. Greece's banks stayed closed, and it's not clear when they will reopen.
For the PBS NewsHour, I'm Malcolm Brabant in Athens.
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