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Greece's parliament to vote on new austerity measures

Greece's parliament will today vote on a new set of austerity measures that are crucial if the country is to secure a 31.5bn euros financial aid package from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of Greek public and private sector workers began in a 48-hour general strike in protest of the prospect of further spending cuts.

Protesters shout slogans during an anti-austerity rally in front of the parliament in Athens on Tuesday.
Protesters shout slogans during an anti-austerity rally in front of the parliament in Athens on Tuesday. Credit: Reuters

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Empty streets in Athens as general strike begins

A guard outside the Parliament building
A guard outside the Parliament building Credit: EBU

The streets of Athens are empty as hundreds of thousands of Greeks begin a crippling 48-hour strike to protest against a new round of wage and pension cuts that parliament will vote on tomorrow.

The strike, called by the two biggest labour unions in Greece who represent half the four million-strong workforce, brought public transport to a virtual standstill and shuttered schools, banks and local government offices.

Trains stand idle in Athens
Trains stand idle in Athens Credit: EBU

Wednesday's vote is the biggest test yet for the government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, which needs victory to secure aid from foreign lenders but has failed to convince its smallest coalition partner and the public to back the reforms.

The Metro in Athens is closed
The Metro in Athens is closed Credit: APTN
Gates and shutters are closed across Greece today
Gates and shutters are closed across Greece today Credit: EBU

Merkel committed to Greece staying in euro but they will need more money

by - Europe Editor

Angela Merkel would have known what to expect when she agreed to visit Greece. She has seen pictures of these protests before, there have been much worse before and today could have been much worse.

She came here to show her new found conviction and commitment to Greece staying in the euro. Ironically, this may have made that slightly harder because for Greece to stay in the single currency they have to turn their economy round and to do that they need yet more money.

They need either another multi-billion pound bailout or more people who are owed money by Greece agreeing to forgive those debts. Whichever route they take, ultimately, the money for that is going to have to come from Germany, it's going to have to be authorised by their parliament.

Their voters would have watched the same pictures in my report and they will not be any more sympathetic and Angela Merkel faces an election for her own job in less than a year.

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