Greek lawmakers vote for austerity as protests turn ugly

Police stand guard as protesters throw molotov cocktails at an anti-austerity protest in Athens, May 8, 2016.

Story highlights

  • Greek parliament passes pension and tax reforms ahead of Eurozone meeting
  • Protesters threw molotov cocktails and shouted anti-austerity slogans in Athens Sunday

(CNN)Buffeted once again by protests on the streets outside, Greece's parliament has voted -- by a razor thin margin -- to cut pensions and increase taxes ahead of a crucial meeting in Brussels Monday.

At the meeting, Eurozone finance ministers will again debate whether to provide financial support to the beleaguered country.
    Late Sunday evening, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' coalition passed pension and tax reforms, which cover the majority of a €5.4 billion ($6.15B) package of austerity measures requested by creditors. A slim majority of lawmakers, 153 of 296, voted in favor of the bill.
    Protesters try to escape tear gas during clashes on May 8, 2016 in Athens, Greece.
    The vote session was an effort to convince Eurozone finance ministers that Greece is serious about financial reform -- a necessary condition for a further rescue package -- and, crucially -- Greek debt relief from the Eurozone.
    Tsipras campaigned on a platform of opposition to EU-imposed austerity. However, the parlous state of the Greek economy has forced him to accept the necessity of the measures, which remain unpopular with voters.
    The Greek prime minister told lawmakers that he was "determined" to enact the new measures in an attempt to break the cycle of bankruptcy that has dogged Greece since 2009.
    "We are determined, at all costs, to make Greece stand on its feet again and to break this abscess of corruption that was governing all these years and led the country to bankruptcy. And we will do it," Tsipras said.
    Young people shout slogans in front of the Greek parliament building in Athens on May 8, 2016.

    Debt relief

    This vote comes ahead of an extraordinary Eurozone finance meeting in Brussels Monday to discuss Greece's debt problems.
    "Tomorrow is a very important day. After six whole years, during which European institutions have been meeting constantly to discuss the Greek (financial) crisis and have only considered austerity measures, tomorrow, the Eurogroup will also discuss Greek debt relief," Tsipras said.
    Before and during the vote, protesters were on the streets expressing disapproval for the reforms.
    Fits in the air, protesters chant anti-austerity slogans in Athens, May 8, 2016.
    On Sunday evening, police and masked demonstrators clashed outside of the parliament buildings in Athens. Petrol bombs were thrown by protestors and police used tear gas and flashbang grenades to disperse the demonstrators, CNN affiliate CNN Greece reported.
    Greece's two biggest labor unions are protesting for the third day in a row, with PAME (All Workers Militant Front) and GSEE (General Confederation of Workers of Greece), holding demonstrations in the center of Athens and all over Greece.
    Union members started early in the morning and the groups holding banners and marched towards the parliament, shouting slogans against the new austerity measures, CNN affiliate CNN Greece said.
    Police face protesters throwing flares and molotov coctails during a protest rally outside the Greek parliament building Athens,  May 8, 2016.


    Greece's main opposition New Democracy party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis opposed the measures.
    "Greece is being discredited on a daily basis because of your slowness, your incompetence, your lies and your fixations," he told his opposite number in parliament.
      "Every day you remain in power, Greece, unfortunately, slides deeper into being a 'failed state,' because you chip away at institutions, you erode democracy and you contaminate politics."
      He characterized the measures proposed by Tsipras a "tombstone for any possible growth for the Greek economy."