Greek MPs pass debt deal as protesters riot

GREECE'S parliament has passed a tough austerity reform package proposed by the country's left-wing prime minister Alex Tsipras that will pave the way for the country's debt bailout deal.

The package, which includes sweeping changes to labour laws, cuts to pensions, spending cuts and tax hikes, passed after 229 MPs voted in favour of the measures, with 64 voting against and six abstaining, the ABC reported.

After the vote, Ms Tsipras said: "These are the choices, responsibility of the local political system, of this political system, which I have a feeling now ... [it] is a time to think that this country is forced to work within this strict fiscal frame."

"People need hope and prospect. [They] need opportunity," he said.

Earlier, violent protests sprung up in Athens ahead of the vote.

Protesters took to the streets, with many gathering in Athens' Syntagma Square outside of parliament.

Videos from the scene show large numbers of protesters, with small groups throwing what appear to be molotov cocktails and rocks at massed police.

Police have responded by firing tear gas at the protesters, who are part of a larger anti-austerity gathering.

Despite the uncertainty and chaos Greece has been experiencing in the last few weeks, the vast majority of political protests and gatherings have been overwhelmingly peaceful.

Even at the time of the referendum, the rival 'Yes' and 'No' sides both held large rallies very close to each other in Athens, without any violence breaking out.

About 25,000 people gathered in Syntagma Square on the day of the referendum, and while a small skirmish between anarchists and the police broke out earlier in the day, the rally went off without any major clashes.

The fighting between citizens and police tonight seems to be the first incident of large-scale violence on the streets of Athens since this crisis began.

Many of the terms are the kind of austerity measures that Greeks voted against in the referendum, meaning the deal has proved controversial.

Several high-ranking members of the ruling Syriza party have resigned in protest since the deal, including Deputy Finance Minister Nadia Valavani, who said it was "impossible" for her to remain a member of the government after she learned of the deal's terms.

Even Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras criticised the deal, saying it was a "bad" deal that he did not believe in - however, he added that it was the only way that Greece could stay in the EU.

His apology is unlikely to calm the tempers of the protesters on the streets of Athens, and other former supporters who have turned their back on their government.

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