Greek Parliament Backs Reform Package

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Greece’s parliament has narrowly approved an omnibus reform package needed to unlock more than €6bn of bailout aid and open the way for the country’s international creditors to reach a deal on debt relief, the Financial Times reported. Lawmakers from the governing left-wing Syriza party and its coalition partner, the right-wing Independent Greeks, backed the bill in a late-night vote on Thursday. The centre-right opposition New Democracy party, which holds a strong lead in opinion polls, voted against the package, even though it is committed to implementing reforms if it wins the next election. Alexis Tsipras, prime minister, told parliament: ”Undoubtedly there are some difficulties [with the package] but we’ve got to the top of the ladder, and I’m confident we’re entering a period of stability and strong recovery.” Members of public-sector trade unions, a stronghold of support for Syriza, protested outside the parliament building as the debate was taking place. Police fired tear gas against a group of hooded protesters throwing petrol bombs, setting fire to a military guard-box. The legislative package calls for fresh austerity measures over the next three years to ensure Greece hits tight fiscal targets, including spending cuts and reductions in pensions and tax allowances in 2019 and 2020. Read more. (Subscription required.)