Greece’s parliament has approved a new international bailout deal – which will see the crisis-hit country receive an additional 172bn euros in rescue loans.
Politicians voted 213-79 in favour of the arrangement, with deputies backing the coalition government of socialists and conservatives broadly following party lines.
Greece narrowly avoided default this month after sealing the loan agreement – the second in two years – with eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund, as well as a massive debt restructuring deal with banks and other private bond holders.
“There is no other solution. If anyone has an alternative, let them come forward,” Deputy Finance Minister Philippos Sachinidis told parliament for the vote.
Greece’s Prime Minister Lucas Papademos’ four-month-old coalition is expected to call a general election for late April or early May.
Mr Papademos was also expected to name a new Finance Minister after Evangelos Venizelos resigned from the post late on Monday to lead the majority Socialist party, Pasok, in the election.
While the country remains cut off from long-term debt markets, it has continued to hold regular short-term debt auctions.
On Tuesday, the public debt management agency said borrowing costs dropped in a new 13-week treasury bill auction that raised 1.3bn euro, with the country paying 4.25 per cent compared with 4.61 per cent last month.
Greece has been dependent on eurozone-IMF rescue loans since May 2010. In return for the second bailout, the government pledged to abolish 15,000 public sector jobs this year, while salaries, pensions and other benefits have suffered a new drastic round of cuts.
Opposition to the measures have also hit the country.
Amid nationwide demonstrations against the deal on Tuesday, staff at a state hospital in Athens refused to accept new patients, demanding unpaid wages and expressing opposition to merger plans being pushed through by the government to try and cut costs.
Hospital doctors were also holding a go-slow protest, claiming that the Greek government has not given them overtime pay for four months.
Health spending was also affected by cuts this year to ensure Greece can continue receiving loans from euro partners and the IMF. Lawyers in many parts of the country also began a two-day strike and protesting Greek ferry crews halted services for two days before their union agreed to return to work yesterday.
Athens has also committed to raise 19bn euros by 2015 under an open-ended 50bn euro programme to privatise or develop state property.