Greek Austerity Measures Pass Despite protests, bill grabs majority in parliament By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted Jun 29, 2011 8:31 AM CDT 8 comments Comments Riot policemen arrest a protester during clashes in central Athens Wednesday, June 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris) (Newser) – It’s official: Greece’s parliament has approved a wave of sweeping—and wildly unpopular—austerity measures, paving the way for it to receive bailout loans from Europe to avoid defaulting on its debt, the AP reports. The bill passed 155-138, garnering even the support of Alexandros Athanassiadis, a Socialist deputy who had promised to vote nay. The package will move the country roughly $40 million closer to the black with a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes. "We must avoid the country's collapse at all costs. Now is not the time to step back.," Prime Minister George Papandreou said ahead of the vote, according to the BBC. The head of the country's central bank had earlier today warned that a "no" vote would be "suicide" for the country. The euro rose 0.2% in the minutes following the news, the Wall Street Journal reports. Click for more on the riotous protests the bill has sparked in Athens.