Violence is erupting between anti-austerity demonstrators and riot police as thousands of protesters gathered outside the Greek parliament in Athens during a 48-hour general strike called to oppose the government’s proposed spending cuts and tax hikes. Although demonstrations started peacefully, some demonstrators started throwing stones and bottles at the police in the capital’s Syntagma Square. Police have responded with tear gas and stun grenades, according to the BBC. Protesters have also blockaded the port of Piraeus, located near Athens. The general strike and related demonstrations have disrupted transportation throughout the country. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has said the austerity plan is necessary to prevent the country from defaulting on its debts. If his austerity package is rejected in parliament, Greece may not be able fulfill the next phase of its debt repayments due in mid-July. There are fears the financial crisis could spread throughout Europe and beyond if Papandreou’s austerity plan is rejected. The measures will be put to vote on Wednesday and Thursday.