Greek lawmakers pass crucial austerity bill

Greek lawmakers pass crucial austerity bill by majority vote

Associated Press
Greece narrowly passes crucial austerity bill
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A riot police officer is engulfed by petrol bomb flames thrown by protesters in front of the parliament during clashes in Athens, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. Greece’s fragile coalition government faces its toughest test so far when lawmakers vote later Wednesday on new painful austerity measures demanded to keep the country afloat, on the second day of a nationwide general strike. The 13.5 billion euro ($17.3 billion) package is expected to scrape through Parliament, following a hasty one-day debate. But potential defections could severely weaken the conservative-led coalition formed in June with the intention of keeping Greece in the euro. (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greek lawmakers have narrowly passed a crucial austerity bill by majority vote, but with heavy dissent from within the three-party governing coalition.

Immediately after the vote early Thursday and before the tally had been officially announced, two of the coalition parties expelled a total of seven dissenting deputies from their ranks.

The third party in the coalition, the small Democratic Left, mostly voted "present" — in essence abstaining from the vote.

The passage of the bill was a big step for the government to secure continued funding from the country's international creditors. Without the loans, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has said Greece will run out of euros on Nov. 16.

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