Greek parliament passes new austerity budget

Graffiti image showing a women carrying a sign saying "hope less"
Image caption Greek graffiti artists have been expressing their view of the austerity measures

Greece's parliament has approved the 2012 austerity budget designed to tackle the country's huge debts that threaten the entire eurozone.

The budget, which includes further tax rises and spending cuts, was proposed by the interim coalition government of former bank governor Lucas Papademos.

The bill passed after police again clashed with protesters in Athens.

Backing the budget, the opposition leader said he may review the plans if elected in next year's expected poll.

"Our disagreements remain... we are approving the budget because it is an absolute priority to safeguard the viability of Greek debt," said Antonis Samaras, leader of New Democracy.

The budget for 2012 is designed to cut the deficit to 5.4% of GDP from a projected 9% this year and to generate a primary surplus.

Such a surplus would mean that Greece only needs to borrow money in order to continue servicing the interest on its existing debt.

"Successful implementation of this budget will restore the country's international credibility and create the conditions to rescue the economy," said Mr Papademos.

The unelected former banker took office on 11 November at the head of a broad coalition government following the collapse of the Socialist cabinet of George Papandreou.

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