Greek MPs late last night approved laws aimed at overhauling the country's tax and pension regime. The measures were pushed through even as violence raged on the streets and a three-day general strike brought much of the country to a halt.
The legislation was backed by 153 MPs. In his address to the 300-seat House, prime minister Alexis Tsipras said: ''We are determined to make Greece stand on its two feet at any cost.''
Police battled stone pelting rioters, while black-clad anarchists lobbed flaming Molotov cocktails, after the Greek finance minister warned Greece could become a ''failed state'' if it was pushed too far.
The controversial bills, aimed to net €5.4 billion in budget savings, are regarded as the toughest reforms the thrice bailed-out nation had been forced to enact since the debt crisis hit the economy. The once tough-talking Tsipras called the vote ahead of the tortuous bailout negotiations underway in a bid to placate eurozone finance ministers ahead of today's meeting.
Meanwhile, police said almost 15,000 took out a march in Athens and the second city of Thessaloniki to protest the measures demanded by the EU and IMF that the government sought to adopt as a meeting of eurozone creditors is set for today.
The reforms voted yesterday would cut Greece's highest pension payouts, merge several pension funds, increase contributions and increase the tax burden of those with medium and high incomes.
The austerity measures form part of a package demanded by the EU and International Monetary Fund in exchange for a €86 billion bailout agreed in July, the third for the debt-laden country since 2010.
Central Athens largely remained closed to traffic but the protestors' numbers were significantly down on February when 40,000 people marched in Athens alone.
The left-leaning PAME trade union was the best represented group with 7,000 supporters in Athens and 6,000 in Thessaloniki, according to police.
"Social security, public and compulsory for all. The plutocracy must pay," said the union's banners.