The austerity bill which will trigger the financial rescue package for Greece was passed by the Greek Parliament yesterday.
Parliament passed the bill with 172 parliamentarians voting for the bill and 121 parliamentarians voting against the bill, with three abstentions.
The bill was supported by all but three of PASOK’s parliamentarians, the extreme right Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) and the high profile New Democracy politician, Dora Bakoyiannis.
The bill was opposed by New Democracy (KKE) , the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA).
Three PASOK politicians abstained.
The discussion of the bill by the political leaders was heated. The Greek Prime Minister viciously attacked the Karamanlis government and invited New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras. The New Democracy leader responded that he would not accept lessons of responsibility from PASOK and repeated that New Democracy rejects the measures which are driving Greece towards recession.
Papandreou spoke of ‘a tragedy of irresponsibility’ and of ‘perceptions of corruption’ during the reign of the Karamanlis government. He also said that key figures from the Karamanlis government should appear in Parliament to account for Greece’s current financial state.
The Greek Prime Minister also referred to the fact that in the period 2004 – 2009 an additional 60 000 public servants and 100 000 contractors were employed by the Greek state, adding that in that same period government expenditure increased by 40 billion euros.
George Papandreou said that New Democracy’s support for the austerity bill would represent an act of apology to the Greek people.
The alder of New Democracy Antonis Samaras responded by criticising PASOK for being populist, saying that PASOK’s ‘inaction returns you back to the old PASOK’ and that from the ‘give it all’ from 1989 to the ‘money exists’ of 2009, nothing has changed.
During his address to Parliament the New Democracy leader said that his party was opposed to the austerity bill because it will lead to a deep recession and that his party is not considering the restructuring of the debt.
The KKE leader Aleka Papariga claimed that PASOK, New Democracy and LAOS had joined forces to attack the Communist Party of Greece, emphasising that the battle against the austerity measures would continue on the streets.
The LAOS leader George Karatzaferis said his party was compelled to vote for the bill for the salvation of the nation.
The SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras accused the other parties of competing to determine who had fraudently wasted the greatest amount of public monies.
The passing of the austerity bill has claimed four victims as three PASOK politicians and one New Democracy politician have been expelled for their position on the austerity bill.
The former Greek Foreign Minister in the Karamanlis government Dora Bakoyiannis was expelled from New Democracy for voting in support of the austerity bill while three PASOK politicians, Yiannis Dimaras, Sofia Sakorafa and Vassilis Economou, were expelled for abstaining to vote.