ATHENS, March 31 Greece's government secured
enough votes in parliament early on Monday to pass a key reform
bill demanded by its international lenders, in exchange for
further bailout loans to avoid default.
A majority of deputies voted in favour of the reform
measures Athens agreed earlier this month with the European
Union and the International Monetary Fund, after more than six
months of tough negotiations.
Passing the bill was a condition for Greece to qualify for
fresh bailout aid it needs to repay 9.3 billion euros of debt
maturing in May.
But it also gives a boost to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras'
government before local and EU elections in May, as it includes
a 527-million euro windfall to be spent on poor, austerity-hit
This amount is funded out of Greece's 2013 budget surplus,
which exceeded lenders' forecasts.
A poll published on Saturday, the first to be conducted
after Greece's deal with its lenders', showed Samaras's New
Democracy party nudging ahead of the main opposition, the
leftist Syriza, for the first time in six months.
(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou and Renee Maltezou)