Greek Parliament Passes Austerity Measures To Move Forward With Bailout
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
The Greek Parliament has passed the austerity bill needed as a first step to open bailout negotiations. Today had been the deadline set by European lenders for Parliament to pass new laws in order for the bailout to proceed. And going into the vote, protesters rallied outside the Greek Parliament throughout the debate. Joanna Kakissis joins us now from Athens with more on the vote, and Joanna, let's just start with the debate itself. What happened in Parliament today?
JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: So the debate was very divisive, especially among the Syriza Party, the leftist party that's governing Greece. The final vote was 229 yes, 64 no. And that vote happened because many opposition parties voted for it - many members of the opposition. The party itself was actually quite split, and that could prove to be a problem in the future as the government tries to stay together to work on this deal with the European Union and actually put together a bailout deal that Greece can actually follow.
CORNISH: What was the reaction from, say, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras?
KAKISSIS: The Prime Minister was very angry, passionate and trying very hard to convince his party that this was what - this was the right thing to do, that they had to stick together. The shocker of the evening was that former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who's very close with Tsipras, voted no, voted against his own government. And that was shocking, I think, for a lot of people, including the prime minister. But the prime minister did try very hard to get people on his side and say this is a vote for Greece, not a vote for the party.
CORNISH: I mentioned earlier protests in the streets outside Parliament. Can you talk about how big they were, how reflective they are of what's going on, the sentiment on the street?
KAKISSIS: Well, there were a few thousand people out protesting today. They were protesting austerity measures. They say that this government was voted in to end austerity, and it didn't do it. So obviously, there are many people who are happy about - or there are many people who are unhappy about it and want to end it. There was violence. There's - there is violence often at these protests. And this is a very miniscule part of Greek society. This is not reflective of the protest movement, even in general. But people are still angry. They're angry that the government betrayed them in such - in a sense. But a new poll that came out today - that came out a couple of days ago - pardon me - showed that 70 percent of Greeks actually support this deal and most Greeks actually support the prime minister and want him to carry it out.
CORNISH: So what happens next?
KAKISSIS: Well, the big question is can the government hold it together? Can the government stay together and not fall apart? So if that happens, then we have to go to new elections here in Greece. And that would be a disaster for the government, so it's all about keeping the party on line and keeping the focus on getting the deal done.
CORNISH: That's Joanna Kakissis from Athens. Joanna, thanks so much.
KAKISSIS: You're welcome, Audie.
CORNISH: And we spoke to Joanna about the vote by the Greek Parliament to pass the austerity bill. It's the bill that was needed as the first step to open bailout negotiations with eurozone lenders.
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