Anti-austerity protest in Athens as MPs vote for second bailout reform package (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
Several thousand anti-austerity protesters staged a rally in Syntagma Square in central Athens as the MPs in the nearby parliament building were voting on a second package of reforms required to secure a third international bailout from EU-IMF creditors.
Police presence was heavy in the area after last week’s much larger, 12,000-strong protest concluded with clashes, with police using tear gas against Molotov cocktail-throwing youths.
The rally on Wednesday was peaceful for the most part, with the only isolated incidents of violence reported as protesters were leaving the square.
Journalists at Syntagma reported that someone detonated a petrol bomb near the police ranks, but order was quickly restored in the Greek capital.
The rally condemning the bailout deal was organized by communist trade union PAME and Greece’s civil servants union ADEDY.
As the protestors were heading out to Syntagma Square earlier in the day, PAME General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumpas said that the people will prevail after all and “the street will rule again.”
"The country now needs a social movement, the people's union, liberated from false expectations and hopes, blackmail, fear and terrorism," Koutsoumpas said, as reported by Tass.
Later on Wednesday, the Greek parliament is expected to vote on a second package of reforms required to secure a third bailout deal, which will make reforms to the financial sector and the judicial system of Greece.
The vote is to become another challenge for the government of Alexis Tsipras, whose ruling party Syriza lost support of its 39 deputies during voting on the first package on July 16.
The Greek government hopes to complete all negotiations on the new bailout, in which Greece will receive 86 billion over a three-year period, by August 20.
More austerity is hard to accept for the Greeks, who saw their country’s economy shrink a quarter during five years of crisis, with unemployment rising to over 25 percent.