Greece's Parliament on Wednesday ratified the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategic Programme, 155 in favour to 138 against -- with five MPs declaring "present" -- the most anticipated vote in the 300-deputy legislature since democracy was restored in the country in 1974.
One deputy was absent during the roll call vote and one MP voted via correspon-dence.
Approval of the latest batch of austerity measures, tax hikes, wide-ranging reforms and accelerated privatisations means that the Greek government can expect the unimpeded allocation of the fifth tranche (12 billion euros) of an EC-ECB-IMF bailout in early July and continued deliberations, within the Eurozone, towards a second bailout if necessary.
Failure to ratify the mid-term plan would have essentially meant a no-confidence vote for George Papandreou's government. A couple of MPs from the two major parties did not "toe the party line" in the vote, either voting against or in favour. The PASOK deputy (Panayiotis Kourouplis) that voted against was subsequetly expelled from the ruling party's Parliament group, while the ND deputy (Elsa Papadimitriou) voted in favour and said she would become an independent.
At least one deputy, PASOK MP from Kozani Alekos Athanasiadis, was roughed up by bystanders on a street near Parliament after the vote.
A vote on Thursday will be held in Parliament on the enabling or implementation law that will accompany the Medium-Term Programme.