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Greek police clash with protesters in Athens

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Riot police stand guard as demonstrators march in front of the Greek parliament in central Athens during protests against new austerity measures on November 6, 2012.

Greek police have clashed with angry protesters in the capital city, Athens, as the country’s lawmakers begin debating new austerity measures.

Clashes broke out outside the Greek parliament after tens of thousands of anti-austerity protesters filled the streets leading to the parliament building.

Wednesday’s demonstrations were accompanied by a nationwide strike which disrupted public transportation and shut down schools, banks and government offices.

Greek lawmakers are expected to vote on newly proposed austerity measures which include spending cuts and tax hikes worth 13.5 billion euros (USD17 billion), resulting in salary cuts for judges, diplomats, armed forces as well as academics and hospital doctors.

The Greek government needs to have the package approved by parliament in order to secure over 31 billion euros in aid from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. The financial support has been on hold since May.

Experts say if the vote does not go through, Greece will probably run out of money on November 16, when a debt repayment is due. A no vote could also break the country’s coalition as some small parties have already threatened to oppose it.

Greece has been cutting down its spending over the past four years. A quarter of Greeks have lost their jobs as a result of the move.

One in every five Greek workers is currently unemployed, banks are in a shaky position, and pensions and salaries have been slashed by up to 40 percent.


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