While thousands of protesters braved the bitter cold and rain to demonstrate in Syntagma Square the “provisional” Greek Government passed the new austerity bill required to secure the PSI agreement.

After a tumultuous meeting the bill passed with 199 votes for and many surprises. Greek reporters mentioned that the political scene has altered dramatically. 9 PASOK MPs voted against the measures with prominent figures, like ex Ministers Ms Vasso Papandreou and Louca Katseli,  but also Mr. Papandreou’s close associates like Ms. M. Xenogianakopoulou and H. Kastanidis. The PASOK parliamentary group has shrunk considerably.

New Democracy had a greater surprise: two of its Parliament Speakers voted against the bill and were blackballed.

The Popular Orthodox Rally had two “traitors”, the two MPs Mr. Karatzaferis had chosen to be part of Mr. Papadimos’ tri-party government!

The great loser is the city of Athens and the Minister of Citizens’ protection Christos Papoutsis. According to Mr. Papoutsis statement forty fires broke out in Athens in the historical center of the city and they are still raging at 2.32 pm. His veiled accusations that there are political forces which nurture such behavior were not supported by his party.  The fact that similar protests took place not only in Thessaloniki but also in Volos, Chania and Heraklion. In Corfu the offices of the MPs of both major parties were attacked and vandalized.

According to television reports Mr. Papoutsis was warned of the possible tension and riots but failed to contain them.

The latest is that there will be a major reshuffle of the present government tomorrow.