Greek PM Survives Confidence Vote

Posted November 4th, 2011 at 8:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou survived a confidence vote in parliament late Friday, avoiding early elections that would have further destabilized the eurozone.

A total of 153 deputies approved the motion, while 145 voted against in the 300-seat assembly.

In a speech ahead of the vote, Mr. Papandreou called for a new coalition government to approve a bailout deal vital for saving the country from bankruptcy and stabilizing the eurozone.

He told parliament that he would go to the Greek president Saturday to discuss formation of a power-sharing government that would secure the bailout. He said he was willing to let someone else lead the caretaker government, but he said calling for early elections would be disastrous.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the country desperately needed the next $11 billion installment of its existing $150 billion bailout. European leaders and the International Monetary Fund have said Greece would not get another cent if it backs out of its bailout agreement.

The vote took place a day after Mr. Papandreou scrapped a controversial referendum that had angered world leaders trying to formulate the eurozone rescue plan. All lawmakers of the Socialist party gave their support to Mr. Papandreou, while the opposition New Democracy voted against him.

The Greek vote concluded a week of turmoil in the eurozone, which began with Mr. Papandreou's call for a referendum on the bailout for his country.

The prime minister faced enormous international pressure to call off the referendum. He said the vote was a political move to get Greek opposition to support the bailout plan. He scrapped the referendum plan after the opposition lawmakers said they would support the bailout.

Thousands of protesters rallied in central Athens during the vote Friday against tough austerity measures included in the bailout.

Greek opposition leader Antonis Samaras has 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.

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