29 JUN 2011
By Leigh Phillips
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - As the Greek parliament managed to narrowly pass a package of sweeping privatisation and draconian cuts to public services at the insistence of the EU and IMF, police deployed an unprecedented level of violence to suppress mass protests and prevent demonstrators from blocking the parliament.
With a slim 155 in favour and 137 against, the centre-left government of Prime Minister George Papandreou managed to pressure all rebel MPs to back the package, shocking his deputies with visions of tanks on the streets of the capital if the bill did not pass.
Only one Pasok MP voted against, while one opposition conservative MP voted with the government to deliver a victory to the mid-term package of €28 billion in public sector cuts and €50 billion in sell-off of state assets required by international lenders before the latest, €12 billion tranche of bail-out cash is delivered to the country.
Ahead of the vote, the deputy prime minister Theodoroas Pangalos, declared:
"A return to the drachma would mean that on the following day banks would be surrounded by terrified people trying to withdraw their money, the army would have to protect them with tanks because there would not be enough police."
"There would be riots everywhere, shops would be empty, some people would throw themselves out the window."
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