Opposition conservative says will vote for Greek austerity

AFP , Wednesday 29 Jun 2011

An opposition conservative lawmaker told the Greek parliament on Wednesday that she will vote for a government austerity plans as police and protesters clashed outside the assembly.

Elsa Papadimitriou told the floor shortly before voting was due to begin that she will back Prime Minister George Papandreou's plan to shave 28.4 billion euros ($40 billion) from the national budget by 2015, as police fired tear gas at thousands of demonstrators massed outside.

"Yes indeed," she said of which way she would cast her vote. "To act with patriotism is to support the consensus and cooperation... The plan is a solution, necessary... but budgetary asphyxiation and economic suicide are not," she added.

The government has a majority of five in the assembly, and her decision makes the measures almost certain to pass even though one Socialist lawmaker repeated during the debate that he may vote against the package, in protest at plans to sell off part of the state's majority holding in the national electricity company.

It came as correspondents reported the latest bid by anti-riot cops to disperse protesters just after 1:30 pm (1030 GMT). Demonstrators had said they would try to breach barriers erected right round the parliament's Syntagma Square home.

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