Greece’s parliament voted against extending pharmacy opening hours, a rare sign of rebellion against reforms demanded by international lenders who are in Athens to negotiate the terms of a new bailout deal.
Despite resistance from some lawmakers, parliament voted last week in favor of the overall bill, which includes pension, labor and other emergency measures agreed with the so-called troika of institutional lenders – the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
“Article 29 is rejected,” said parliamentary speaker Evangelos Argiris early yesterday after 152 lawmakers out of 253 voted against the reform or abstained.
Among dissenters were members of both the Socialist PASOK and the conservative New Democracy parties, which along with the far-right LAOS back the country’s coalition government struggling to exit the debt crisis.
Disagreement over budget cuts
Political disagreement over austerity measures and reforms is one of the main hurdles technocrat Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is facing as he races to clinch a crucial bond swap deal with private sector creditors.
Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Jan. 24 that all Greek parties must commit to the reforms agreed on with international lenders, no matter who wins the upcoming elections, or Athens will puts the second bailout at risk.
The government, which has previously voted laws in an attempt to free up the pharmacies’ sector from strict zoning rules and fixed drug prices and regulated opening hours, may reintroduce the reform in a new bill.