YESTERDAY'S narrow victory in the Greek parliament for the government's austerity measures has to undergo a third test (the first was last week's vote of confidence) today when the measures necessary to implement 28 billion euros of spending cuts and 50 billion euros of asset sales will require approval.
Thus far the voting strengths of the socialist government and the opposition New Democrats have remained steady with a difference of less than twenty votes between them. There have been rumours of MPs' defections from both sides but with one possible exception the party lines have held. If today's vote repeats yesterday's the government will qualify for an immediate 12 billion euro bailout from the eurozone members and the International Monetary Fund with the prospect of further help to come within weeks.
However, the question staring everyone in the face is whether what happens in the Greek parliament is really the most important issue.
The scale and nature of the demonstrations outside the parliament building in Syntagma Square yesterday were such as to raise serious doubts about whether the Greek state can hold together if the austerity programme is implemented. The government's majority is a small one and the opposition is solidly against the programme. The voice of the street, including the trade unions, appears to be unanimously opposed to the austerity measures. Greece's future is on the uncertain edge of disaster.