The new measures being debated amount to some 13.5 billion euros in cuts by 2016.
Once the vote finally takes place, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is expected to narrowly win the support required to pass the austerity package. Samaras’ 176-member conservative-liberal coalition needs to gather 151 votes out of 300 in parliament for the new measures to pass.
The second day of the nationwide strike, which is expected to last the rest of the week, has seen most of the country brought to a standstill, with public transport, schools and air traffic control shut down. Hospitals are also working with skeleton crews. Media broadcasts and publications were halted until further notice when journalists joined the strikers.
A new draft of budget cuts is required for Greece to qualify for the next loan, totaling more than 31 billion euros ($39.63 billion), from the ‘Troika’ – the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The new bailout was put on hold after Greece failed to reach its earlier fiscal commitments. The Greek Parliament remains divided over the issue, with the Democratic Left Party that comprises one-third of the governing coalition refusing to back the measures, which has pledged to vote ‘present’ instead of ‘no.’
The measures stipulate a two-year increase in the Greek retirement age to 67, and several tax hikes. The new package also includes provisions making it easier to fire civil servants, which has provoked the ire of public workers amid a current unemployment rate of over 25 percent.
The vote represents a crucial test for Samaras’ government, as a ‘yes’ vote would ensure more cash for Athens to pay off its debts later this month. A ‘no’ vote could shatter Samaras’ fragile coalition.
You can also see the Greek skies - result of chemical spraying and HAARP