Push for Greek Austerity Vote

Measures must pass for next tranche of rescue package

Prime Minister George Papandreou pledged to European leaders on a trip to Berlin on Tuesday that Greece would pass the latest round of austerity measures required for Athens to receive the latest round of funding its rescue package.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos pledged “superhuman” efforts to push through unpopular provisions that include a new property tax and an additional wage cut on top of those already imposed.

Bloomberg reported that the vote was expected to be close, and could cost Papandreou additional members of his Pasok party. Two of his deputies had resigned over the austerity measures enacted in June. Whether or not the new cuts and taxes pass, European Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj was reported to say Monday that it was unlikely that euro zone ministers would approve the latest loan to Greece on Oct. 3, as originally planned; inspectors had walked out on a review of Greece’s efforts to cut its debt and raise funding earlier in the month, dissatisfied with the progress Athens was making. Greece has said that it needs the funding next month.

Greeks have already expressed their disapproval of the new measures; The New York Times reported Sunday that general strikes by unions are planned for Oct. 5 and Oct. 19, and the union representing the workers in the public power company, which is supposed to levy the new property tax through citizens’ electric bills, has already said it will not do so.

Wolfango Piccoli, an analyst in London at Eurasia Group, said in the report that while the vote will be close, it is expected to pass. However, he added, “Implementation of the measures is the biggest challenge for the government as the trade unions and parts of the civil service will mount significant resistance, raising the risk of inertia and inaction.”

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