After weeks of negotiations and more protests than we can count, the Greek parliament finally approved its 2013 fiscal budget complete with radical austerity cuts. While the lawmakers were casing their votes, 20,000 people gathered outside Parliament to protest the budget cuts which affect everything from government worker salaries to the retirement age in Greece. However, without the cuts, Greece would have a hard time getting the next round of bailout money from international creditors, a lifeline worth $40.2 billion. The budget passed comfortably 167 to 128.
It's no wonder so many people are upset. More than one out of every five Greeks are already living below the poverty line. The unemployment rate is hovering around 25 percent. And with the new budget, things are only going to get worse for a lot of the country's citizens. The austerity measures amount to $17.2 billion over the next two years and will hit the elderly the hardest. The retirement age will be raised from 65 to 67, and pensions will be cut between 5 and 10 percent. The country's public sector workers will all see their salaries slashed by a third and cuts back on bonuses across the board.
All things considered, Greek leaders didn't have much of a choice. Without the next round of bailout money, the country would've run out of money by mid-November, and that would be much more inconvenient than a few pay cuts.