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Greek parliament passes key austerity bill

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's lawmakers have approved a key austerity bill, paving the way for the country to get its next vital bailout loans that will prevent it from defaulting next month.

The unpopular 28 billion euros ($40 billion) five-year package of spending cuts and tax hikes was backed by a majority of the 300-member parliament Wednesday, including Socialist deputy Alexandros Athanassiadis, who had previously vowed to vote against.

The European Union and International Monetary Fund have demanded the austerity measures pass before they approve the release of a 12 billion euros loan installment from last year's rescue package.

Without those funds, Greece would be facing a default by the middle of July.

The vote took place amid clashes between police and protesters outside Parliament.

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