Greece passes 2013 austerity budget

Associated Press Modified: November 11, 2012 at 7:00 pm •  Published: November 11, 2012
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Disbursement of the next installment is essential "because the state's available funds are marginal, although better than expected because the 2012 budget is being executed better than expected," he said, adding that the funds are needed to pay salaries and pensions, as well as for the import of medicines, fuel and food.

Hours before the vote, 15,000 people converged outside Parliament in a peaceful demonstration. The crowd was far smaller than the 80,000-strong crowd which protested last Wednesday's austerity bill vote. That demonstration degenerated into violent clashes between riot police and hundreds of protesters.

Greece is mired in a deep recession heading into its sixth year, with more than a quarter of Greeks unemployed. Battered by a mountain of debt and a gaping budget deficit, Greece has been relying on international bailout loans from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund since May 2010.

Alexis Tsipras, the head of the main opposition Radical Left Coalition party, or Syriza, insisted the new austerity cuts are unfair and would leave Greeks unable to buy essentials such as food, fuel and medicine this winter.

"This is why we say you are dangerous for this country," Tspiras said, addressing the government. "You are incapable of negotiating."

Tspiras promised to repeal the austerity laws and negotiate "on an equal footing" with the country's creditors if he were to come to power.

In an opinion poll published in the Sunday newspaper To Vima, 66 percent opposed the new austerity measures, but 52 percent said the government, which emerged from June elections, should be given more time to handle the economic crisis.

The poll showed Syriza, which placed second in the June elections, ahead of the coalition leader, the center-right New Democracy party, by nearly 3 percentage points. The extreme right-wing nationalist Golden Dawn party continued its strong showing with more than 10 percent of respondents preferring it.

The poll, which involved 1,017 respondents, had a margin of error of 3.07 percentage points.

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Associated Press writer Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.