Street protests as Greek deputies consider budget vote


Thousands of protesters massed outside Greece’s parliament Sunday as lawmakers prepared to vote on a 2013 budget that includes draconian cuts but needs to pass for vital foreign aid to be released.
Police estimated around 15,000 marchers joined two separate marches in the capital Athens.
The parliamentary vote, due to take place late Sunday or early Monday is the latest hurdle the government needs to clear in its bid to head off bankruptcy in the debt-crippled country. The proposed budget includes another 9.4 billion euros ($12 billion) in cuts and paints a gloomy outlook for the country’s economy and government finances.
But Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, while acknowledging the sacrifices already endured by Greeks, told parliament on Saturday that 2013 would crucial for the Greek economy.
This latest vote comes just days after parliament narrowly adopted a separate austerity package on Wednesday.
That suggests that the coalition government led by conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will squeeze the budget through parliament: it controls 169 seats in the 300-member assembly.
The austerity regime imposed on Greece, which has included massive cuts to public-sector wages and pensions, has triggered a series of general strikes.
Street protests in major cities have frequently turned violent.