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Greece pushes through more austerity, awaits next bailout payment

The Greek Parliament narrowly pushed through the new, unpopular austerity measures, a key step for the release of more bailout funds from Europe.

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Petrol bombs thrown by protesters explode near riot police in front of the parliament during clashes in Athens, Wednesday. Greece’s fragile coalition government on Wednesday narrowly approved new austerity measures demanded to keep the country afloat, on the second day of a nationwide general strike.

Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

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Greece's euro partners won't be able to release the country's next batch of bailout cash at a meeting next week, even though the Greek Parliament narrowly backed more unpopular austerity measures Thursday.

Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the 17-country eurozone is not yet in a position to make a decision on releasing the funds, as many in Athens may have hoped. As anticipated, the cash-strapped country still has to pass its budget for 2013 while lawmakers in some countries, including Germany, have to authorize the release of funds.

"We're not there yet," Mr. Schaeuble said in Hamburg.

"I don't see how we would get to a decision next week," he said, referring to the meeting of the eurozone finance ministers on Monday. "Not all is lost, but not all is won."

The approval of the austerity bill, which will further cut salaries and pensions and increase taxes, was the key step towards persuading Greece's international creditors to release the next €31.5 billion ($40.2 billion) installment of the country's vital bailout loans.

Without it, the government has said the country will start running out of cash Nov. 16, paving the way to Greece's potential bankruptcy and exit from the euro. That scenario has kept financial markets on edge for the past three years.

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