Protesters were congregating in the Greek capital's Syntagma Square early Wednesday to blockade the parliament building in an attempt to prevent access by lawmakers.Hundreds of police dressed in riot gear were lining up around the building and had blocked off roads ahead of what was expected to be another day of chaotic protests.
The new austerity measures must be passed in a two-part vote on Wednesday and Thursday if Greece's international creditors are to release the next €12 billion batch of the country's €110 billion bail-out fund and prevent a default that could drag down European banks and shake the European and world economy. Prime Minister George Papandreou should be able to pass the midterm economic plan as his socialist party holds a majority of five seats but there have been grumblings of dissent within his own ranks. Voting by the 300 deputies was expected to begin early afternoon.
Some 46 people suffered injuries during violent clashes late Tuesday which saw scenes of destruction on the streets of Athens.Rioters set fire to street furniture and smashed windows of shops in the central square, chipping marble paving stones to hurl at police in scenes that went on well into the night.Crowds were dispersed using canisters of tear gas and at least 14 people were arrested.
Meanwhile workers continued with a 48 hour general strike to protests against painful austerity measures. Pireaus port was blockaded preventing ferries to the islands and trains and buses in the capital were not running.