Greek parliament, protesters prepare for final austerity vote
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Jeremy Hobson: This Sunday is the deadline European leaders have set for themselves to come up with a grand plan to deal with the debt crisis. But this morning, the focus is in Athens, where the Greek parliament is set to vote for a final time on a package of budget cuts and tax increases that are needed to get more bailout money.
Christos Michaelides is a political correspondent for the Athens daily newspaper Eleftherotypia. He joins us now, good morning.
Christos Michaelides: Good morning.
Hobson: So the controversial budget cuts passed the first hurdle yesterday — just barely — in the parliament. What’s the mood there in Athens today as the parliament prepares for the final votes?
Michaelides: Well, if we had — according to the police — about 100,000 demonstrators in the center of Athens yesterday outside parliament, it’s pretty sure that today we might even have double that number. I’ve been speaking to many, many people out in the streets.
I am, with a certainty now, that people just want to send a message to the Europeans, to our European colleagues saying that, “We are prepared to make some sacrifices, but we feel here in Greece that things have gone a bit too far.”
Hobson: Do the people in Athens realize that they could throw this whole grand plan that’s being negotiated for the European debt crisis into trouble if they don’t pass these measures?
Michaelides: No, they don’t feel that anymore. They believe that they are, in a way, being blackmailed into this game — that if we do not vote and if we do not support these measures, our country will go bankrupt. People feel that the problem is European, and it should be solved at the European level. And that Greece is just a small symptom of the problem.
Hobson: Christos Michaelides, political correspondent at the Athens daily newspaper Eleftherotypia, thank you so much for joining us.
Michaelides: Thank you.
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