ATHENS — Greece faced a day of political turmoil and public protests Wednesday as its parliament voted on whether to accept a $94 billion bailout that would bring painful austerity measures.
Workers’ strikes and several rallies were planned in Athens, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras facing an open revolt in his left-wing party over the tax rises and pension cuts demanded under the European deal.
"I believe nothing short of a revolution is in order now"
The crisis deepened late Tuesday when an International Monetary Fund study showed that Greece needs far more debt relief than European governments had offered, and that the loan package agreed by leaders on Monday was unsustainable.
It leaves ordinary Greeks wondering if decades of economic anguish are a price worth paying for remaining in the euro currency zone.
“The people simply don't have the means to endure these harsh measures,” said Greek-American Jennifer Patronis, 40, from Ohio. “The deal that has been made now … has sealed Greece's fate. There can be no economic growth or job creation under the asphyxiating terms.”
The office manager, who withdrew all her savings and left Greece in 2012 because of the crisis, said it was unlikely she would be able to move back anytime soon.
“I believe nothing short of a revolution is in order now,” she said. “Yes, Greece needs to pay back the monies it borrowed and reform its entire system, but if this needs be accomplished by the systematic annihilation of an entire nation, then I cannot support it.”
She added: “Why did Tsipras bother with the referendum only to completely ignore the will of the people?”
That view is shared by some of Tsipras’ own government ministers. Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis said the bailout was forced on Athens by Germany and its allies, who had acted like "financial assassins."
"The deal is unacceptable," Lafazanis said in a statement. "It may pass through parliament ... but the people will never accept it and will be united in their fight against it."
Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who heads the right-wing Independent Greeks party which is in a coalition partnership with Tsipras, also denounced the deal. "There was a coup. A coup in the heart of Europe," he said.
The bailout is expected to pass with votes from opposition parties, Tsipras’ political survival could be in danger if large numbers of its own lawmakers resign their seats or openly vote against it.
Amid the crisis, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was expected in Germany on Wednesday to confer with European leaders, starting with a meeting in Frankfurt with European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi.
The IMF warned that Greek debts would peak over the next two years at 200 percent of the country's economic output — up on its previous estimate of 177 percent.
It said that "Greece's debt can now only be made sustainable through debt relief measures that go far beyond what Europe has been willing to consider so far."
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in Brussels on Tuesday that some members of the Berlin government think it would make more sense for Athens to leave the euro zone temporarily rather than take another bailout.