Greek PM Faces Confidence Vote Amid Calls for Resignation

Posted November 4th, 2011 at 12:45 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Greece's ruling Socialists are confronting their prime minister ahead of a parliamentary vote of confidence scheduled for Friday that may determine if a European bailout package for the cash-strapped country goes through.

Some members of the party are saying they will support Prime Minister George Papandreou only if he pledges to resign and begins talks with the opposition on a transition government that will ratify the European Union bailout fund.

The vote comes one day after Mr. Papandreou scrapped a controversial referendum that had angered world leaders trying to formulate the eurozone rescue plan.

Mr. Papandreou on Thursday dropped plans for the nationwide vote on the bailout deal after Greece's center-right opposition agreed to support the package, which contains spending cuts that are deeply unpopular with the Greek public.

The prime minister, who faced enormous international pressure to call off the referendum, said the vote was a political ploy designed to get Greece's opposition parties to support the bailout plan.

On Thursday, Greek opposition leader Antonis Samaras demanded Mr. Papandreou's resignation, saying he had jeopardized Greece's world financial standing by calling for the referendum.

Samaras also called for the creation of a transitional government to prepare for early elections.

While Mr. Papandreou said that holding early elections would be “catastrophic,” he did say he was open to talks with opposition members regarding the formation of a new government that would secure the debt deal.

It is unclear whether Mr. Papandreou's ruling socialist government can survive Friday's vote. His PASOK party has a narrow two-seat majority in parliament, and at least one socialist lawmaker has threatened to vote against the government.

Parliament is expected to hold the confidence vote late Friday, around midnight local time .

European leaders meeting at the G20 economic summit in France warned Greece that it will receive no more European Union funding if it does not follow through with the austerity measures associated with the bailout package.

The political crisis in Greece is directly linked to the financial crisis in the country, which has been hampered by consistent deficits and debt. Till Schreiber, assistant professor of economics at the College of William and Mary, told VOA Friday that the Greek government, even in the years before the 2008 global recession, had been running persistent deficits that were quite large.

However, he said it is highly unlikely that Greece will leave the eurozone.

Schreiber said Greece never came out of the recession, which put a further strain on government budgets.