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Coalition clings on while Greeks rally outside parliament

Severe austerity measures have contributed to a record 27 per cent unemployment

Thousands of Greeks gathered outside parliament in Athens on Sunday night calling for the government to resign and an end to austerity.

But the ruling coalition survived a no-confidence motion by the opposition Syriza party earlier today.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras claimed that Greece had seen the worst of its financial crisis.

"We have got through the most difficult phase. Greece should be able to rejoin the markets by the end of next year," Mr Samaras asserted.

The no-confidence motion fell short of the 151 votes needed to pass, with 124 MPs voting in favour and 153 against.

It was supported by the Communist Party, the right-wing populist Independent Greeks and the neonazi Golden Dawn.

The no-confidence motion had been tabled on Thursday, just a few hours after Greek riot police ended a five-month protest by sacked workers broadcasting from the headquarters of the defunct ERT state broadcaster.

Although the motion had little chance of passing, the opposition used the debate to blast government policies.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras accused it of being "under foreign control" and of taxing the poor to protect the rich.

Mr Tsipras also called for early elections, saying that "only the sovereign people" could cancel Greece's crushing bailout agreements.

The loan deals have burdened the country with severe austerity measures that have contributed to a record 27 per cent unemployment and cut deeply into Greeks' income.

Mr Tsipras promised Syriza would "repeal all the bailout laws and enact laws to promote economic growth."

But Mr Samaras defended the ruling coalition's programme, claiming that it would result in a primary budget surplus this year and enable the government to start borrowing from the markets again.

He also claimed that there would be no more across-the-board cuts in wages and pensions.

Mr Samaras will now have to concentrate on placating the country's European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund creditors, which are sceptical of the budget surplus claims.


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