Protesters pass by a burning cinema in Athens, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012. Riots engulfed central Athens and at least 10 buildings went up in flames in mass protests late Sunday as lawmakers prepared for a historic parliamentary vote on harsh austerity measures demanded to keep the country solvent and within the eurozone. (AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis)
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek lawmakers on Monday approved harsh new austerity measures demanded by bailout creditors to save the debt-crippled nation from bankruptcy, after riots in Athens and other cities left stores looted and burned and more than 120 people hurt.
The historic vote paves the way for Greece’s European partners and the International Monetary Fund to release $170 billion (€130 billion) in new rescue loans, without which Greece would default on its mountain of debt next month and likely leave the eurozone — a scenario that would further roil global markets.
Lawmakers voted 199-74 in favor of the cutbacks, despite strong dissent among the two main coalition members.
In response, the Socialists and conservatives expelled 22 and 21 lawmakers, respectively, reducing their majority in the 300-seat parliament from 236 to 193.
Violence was also reported in six other cities, the worst in central Volos where the town hall and a tax office were damaged by fire, police said.
Sunday’s clashes erupted after more than 100,000 protesters marched to the parliament to rally against the drastic cuts, which will ax one in five civil service jobs and slash the minimum wage by more than a fifth.
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