Greek coalition party to oppose austerity measures


ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- The leader of a small partner in Greece's coalition government said Friday his party would vote against the latest round of austerity measures required for a massive new bailout deal -- despite having backed the measures a day earlier.

George Karatzaferis, leader of the rightist LAOS party, said Friday that he would now vote against the government proposal expected to come to parliament late Sunday.

LAOS has 16 deputies in parliament in a coalition backed by 252 lawmakers. If the two other major parties, the Socialists and the conservatives, approve the austerity package, it would still pass.

Karatzaferis insisted it was not his intention to withdraw from the government, and urged other countries in the European Union to challenge what he described as Germany's domination of the union.

European ministers declared Thursday that Athens hadn't gone far enough with austerity package agreed after a marathon round of talks on Wednesday and Thursday and demanded further cuts within a week in exchange for a €130 billion ($170 billion) bailout to stave off bankruptcy.

"Of course we do not want to be outside the EU, but we can get by without being under the German jackboot," he told a news conference.

"Like all Greeks, I am very irritated .... by this humiliation. They have stolen our pride. I cannot tolerate this. I cannot allow it, even if I have to starve."

Greece is battling to secure the €130 billion bailout deal and a related debt-relief agreement with banks that would slash €100 billion from the country's national debt.

In return, it has caved in to pressing demands to fire 15,000 civil servants in 2012, slash the minimum wage and other private sector pay.

In central Athens, clashes erupted outside Parliament, as dozens of hooded youths threw fire bombs and stones at police, who responded with tear gas. Three people were hurt, police said.

The violence broke out as thousands took to the streets of the capital after unions launched a two-day general strike against the planned austerity measures.

Police said some 7,000 people took part in the demonstration. Another 10,000 Communist supporters held a separate, peaceful march.