Greece passes 2013 austerity budget

Greek lawmakers have approved the country's 2013 austerity budget. 

It is an essential step in Greece's efforts to persuade its international creditors to unblock a vital rescue loan instalment without which the country will go bankrupt. 

This comes days after a separate bill of deep spending cuts and tax hikes for the next two years squeaked through with a narrow majority. 

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras pledged that the spending cuts will be the last Greeks have to endure. 

Athens says that with the passage of the two bills, the next loan instalment, worth 31.5 billion euros, should be disbursed. 

Alexis Tsipras, the head of the main opposition Radical Left Coalition party, or Syriza, insisted the new austerity cuts are unfair and would leave Greeks unable to buy essentials this winter. 

Greece is mired in a deep recession heading into its sixth year, with more than a quarter of Greeks unemployed.