Greek Leaders in Talks to Form Coalition Government

Posted November 5th, 2011 at 7:00 am (UTC-5)
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Just hours after surviving a no-confidence vote in parliament, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou opened talks Saturday with President Carolos Papoulias on forming a coalition government to secure continued bailout funds.

Mr. Papandreou won the vote after saying he was willing to discuss a power-sharing government to approve a bailout deal vital for saving the country from bankruptcy and stabilizing the eurozone.

It is not clear if the main opposition conservatives and other parties will take part in the talks and drop a demand for snap general elections.

Mr. Papandreou has warned calling for early elections would be disastrous.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Friday the country desperately needs 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.

On Thursday, Mr. Papandreou scrapped a controversial referendum on the bailout that had angered world leaders trying to formulate the eurozone rescue plan.

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.

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.