Greece PM Papandreou wins confidence vote

 

George Papandreou: "I do not care if I am re-elected"

Greece's PM George Papandreou has won a crucial confidence vote after promising to hold power-sharing talks.

In an address to parliament before the vote he ruled out snap elections, saying they would be "catastrophic".

He said he did not care about his post and the leadership of any government of national unity would be negotiable.

Mr Papandreou previously shocked EU partners and sent markets into turmoil after calling for a referendum on an EU deal to bail out debt-ridden Greece.

Mr Papandreou said the bail-out deal currently on offer by the EU had to be accepted, and it would be "historically irresponsible" to lose it.

He said immediate elections would be "catastrophic" for the deal, so proposed a new coalition to take charge until it had been agreed.

"I have been in contact with the president and I will visit him tomorrow (Saturday) to inform him of my intentions and that I am moving forward with all the parties for a broader coalition government, and to agree on common goals, a timeframe and people, to agree on its composition and even the head of this coalition," he said.

"I therefore ask for a vote of confidence in order to ensure the security of this nation."

Start Quote

Mr Papandreou rejected our proposal. The only solution is elections”

End Quote Opposition leader Antonis Samaras

The vote took place after several hours' debate. Mr Papandreou addressed parliament for more than half an hour.

Thousands of protesters have gathered in Athens' Syntagma Square. Security has been tightened around the nearby parliament building.

Eurozone leaders fear that failure to solve the Greek debt crisis could risk it spreading to other vulnerable economies, particularly Italy.

The figures in the Greek parliament revealed Mr Papandreou's vulnerability. His governing Socialist party (Pasok) held a tiny majority - 152 out of 300 seats. In the end 153 MPs voted for the government.

The vote was timed to take place when the markets in Europe and the US are closed, such is the sensitivity of the issue.

Analysis

By winning the vote George Papandreou has crossed a hurdle, but several more remain.

He will seek a broad consensus on last week's bailout deal for Greece negotiated in Brussels, reaching out to the opposition. And he will inform the president that he intends to begin talks on forming a national unity government.

The question now is whether Mr Papandreou is simply buying time, trying to rebuild his credibility by voting through the bailout before calling a poll which he still hopes to win. Or is his aim to secure a ratification of the deal and then to seek a dignified exit?

With the opposition New Democracy party calling for his resignation, it would be difficult for Mr Papandreou to take the reins of a national unity government.

But the prime minister has shown himself to be a deeply unpredictable leader. Greeks - and all of Europe - are watching anxiously for his next move.

Although Mr Papandreou survived the confidence vote, the political situation in Greece still seemed far from certain.

Leader of the main opposition New Democracy party Antonis Samaras rejected the prime minister's idea of a coalition government and repeated his demands for immediate elections.

"Mr Papandreou rejected our proposal. The only solution is elections," a party spokesman quoted Mr Samaras as saying.

On Thursday Mr Samaras led his MPs in a dramatic walkout of parliament.

The proposed referendum had caused serious divisions in Pasok, with Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos insisting it should not be held.

He told European partners on Friday that Greece had officially scrapped the referendum.

Mr Venizelos said he had informed EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and eurozone chairman Jean-Claude Juncker of the decision.

Mr Papandreou had earlier said the referendum was never an end in itself, and there were two other choices - an election, which he said would bankrupt the country, or a consensus in parliament.

Earlier on Friday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told the BBC he expected a government of national unity to be formed in Greece and that the economic problems "will be solved".

Greek parliament graphic

In another development on Friday, international ratings agency Moody's cut Cyprus's credit grade by two notches - to the brink of junk status - over its banking sector's exposure to Greek bonds.

The Greek crisis overshadowed the G20 summit in Cannes which ended on Friday.

EU President Herman Van Rompuy said leaders had agreed to increase the firepower of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but gave no specifics on the funding.

Mr Papandreou had been summoned for urgent talks at the G20 on Wednesday, where he was told that any referendum would turn on the question of whether Greece wanted to stay in the eurozone.

The next tranche of Greece's existing bailout was also put on hold.

Without the bailout funds, Greece may go bankrupt before the end of the year.

The EU bailout deal, agreed last month, would give the heavily indebted Greek government 130bn euros (£111bn; $178bn) and it imposes a 50% write-off on private holders of Greek debts, in return for deeply unpopular austerity measures.

Although the Greek public has strongly resisted the austerity measures, a recent opinion poll in a newspaper showed 70% wanted to remain within the eurozone.

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 94.

    86.Tiffany
    As far as Papandreou goes - he should go now
    -
    Papandreau is the last bit of glue that is holding Greece together. If you are Greek, you have an impossible choice.

    Stay in the Euro & face fighting in the streets over the crippling austerity measures
    Leave the Euro & never recover financially.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 93.

    Surely the fundamental problem here is that Greece, like many other countries have been living outside of their means for far too long, supported by a unsustainable and irresponsible banking system that facilitated this debt? A person cannot perpetually consolidate their debt without paying off it off, so why did this seem to be the case with so many countries?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 92.

    Now that Greece is sinking fast, keep your eye on Cyprus. A small fish I admit but how many small cogs need to fail to stop the machine from working. They have already borrowed 2.5 billion from Russia which they have no chance of paying back.

  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 91.

    THOSE WHO YOU ARE FEARFUL OF CONTROL YOU!

    "Economic collapse!"................BRING IT ON, NOW!!!!

    I SAID.........NOW!!!!!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 90.

    At the end of the day what is happening is simple - a group of people are desperately trying to make 1 + 1 = 2, and failing miserably.

    The real problem is that this may be insolvable. This is not that the Euro is faulted, or the bankers are greedy or the people stupid - it is simply that the entire, convoluted system, everyone of us, has got huge, and it is falling over.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 89.

    What do they honestly expect him to do? Really. What good will it do their country if they cant even agree on who is leading them, and never will. Right now there needs to be a coalition government, that stops their bickering and gets on with the task at hand.
    The opposition realised this, and as soon as he called a referendum the opposition panicked, only then realised there is no options.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 88.

    Mr Samaras questioned the motives behind Mr Papandreou's actions.

    "I am wondering; Mr Papandreou almost destroyed Greece and Europe,

    Maybe , it was a master bluff . But unless Greece is 100 % behind staying in Europe , they are doomed and we will be back to the same place in 12 months . In the Euro , Greeks will face years of a shrinking economy and thus even more debt .

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 87.

    If Papandreou goes, it must be a Greek decision. There must be zero outside influence. The Greek people will then choose whether to accept the measures or not and will have to live with that decision for a generation. European powerhouses should stop trying to rewrite the terms of democracy

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 86.

    @ 79.PFC_Kent
    You have just proved 73.Rich's point. Not only do you not have a clue, you can't read either.

    As far as Papandreou goes - he should go now, and hopefully inspire Berluscono to do the same. They are desperately haning on to their jobs and putting their countries' interest last.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 85.

    Why are the Europhiles of the left so afraid of referenda ? Is it because the only way their policies and point of view can survive scrutiny is by keeping the taxpayer out of the loop. Governments only rule because the people allow it, if the people decide to take away this privilege then they have every right to do so either by election or by more Cromwellian means.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 84.

    No 74 Steve Richards - agree. However this is payback time for Germany and France for their ambitions to rule Europe. Their thirst for power ran away with them. Sarkozy is behaving like a lapdog to Merkel and capitulating to her - just like the last war! Do they learn nothing?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 83.

    I wonder how the Greek people will react to this news that they no longer will be getting the vote after it being promoised to them?

    interesting times ahead I fear.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 82.

    Greece is a nation with a number of incompetent governments that have cheated, lied and steal peoples freedoms,money and future. A number of scandals have taken place and nobody from the politicians has been punished about it. Now, is the time for Europe to finish off the Greeks with new "deals" that make us promise our nation's land in case we fail to pay off the debt. To die or be killed?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 81.

    Papandreou will be gone before the end of next week. This crisis is not about saving individual countries, it's ALL about saving the Euro and forcing ever closer political integration (leading to a European super parliament headed by France and Germany) which, cynics may deduce, will bring near-completion to their original 'road map' that was devised long before the birth of the Euro .

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 80.

    @ 67. the reason it is more simple to join the Euro than leave it is that, like any other vote taken in a supposedly democratic E.U., if the vote goes against the wishes of the central committee of the politburo of the E.S.S.R. (general secretary Merkel and deputy Sarkozy) it must be taken again until a correct result is achieved. (Just ask the Irish)

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 79.

    73.Rich
    3 Minutes ago
    All the EU bashers rename mob-rule for democracy. Governments don't rule by referendum for one simple reason, most people haven't a clue!

    What? As opposed to you you mean? The genius who states that referenda are anti democratic? With double speak like that you should get a job in the EU. You could be in charge of public re-education.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 78.

    Those saying that Merkel can dominate greece as she is providing the money, you dont realise that neither she nor Sarkozy gave the people the choice of spending their tax on greece. They are both unpopular at home due to this and they don't respect the values of democracy. Let Greece default, let both Germany and France take the hit for trying to dominate the EU, and let the EU break up.

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 76.

    Having just spent an hour reading about Greece, its clear that it has longstanding problems that I would perhaps harshly describe as profligate socialism. The Greek electorate do actually need to come face to face with reality and realise that free everything and corruption doesn't work. They either need to declare that now or learn it in years of economic isolation.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 75.

    Yes the Greeks should have a referendum if they want one but surely that's the question do they want one?

    I think it's becoming increasingly clear that this is in fact an attempt by Mr Papandreou to pass the buck and save his own skin.

 

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