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.


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

    Comment number 314.

    @300. Mr Goodbytes
    @292 bill
    "The opportunity to make the banks accountable for their follies was lost when Lehman, Northern Rock, RBS et al were bailed out"
    I partly agree with both of you. There was some consensus re the bailouts around the world. Several countries did it. However we don't know what sort of mess we would be in if we hadn't. Hindsight is wonderful :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 313.

    Filipo (240)
    "honestly explain to me why they even created the EU?"

    er... this little thing called the second world war? trying to avoid another perhaps???

    bill (292)
    "All this talk [...] will soon be sidelined by the need to [...] avoid another world war."

    I think by now we know how expensive a war is, so for the WORST possible reason, no-one's going to start another.

  • rate this

    Comment number 312.

    How arrogant must be Greeks who are richer even English and German people , go to Greece and see their high standart , then go a bit north and see Bulgaria , the salaries there are 100 Euro ........ So when Greeks cut their salaries to 100 Euro we can say this is low standart.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 311.

    @251 Spinonthis

    I made a similar comment yesterday and had both my attempts removed, despite toning down the second one and not using "inflammatory" language. I was actually only making a point, not being controversial or inflammatory. In fact I'd like to think I was being informative!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 310.

    Papandreou's Government and the troika have FAILED so far and for the past 2 years.
    Greeks cannot change the troika's planners. But can change the current government.
    Papandreou has to let go of his leadership. It is obvious, that whoever is advising him, is not doing it for the prosperity of either Greece or the EU.
    Maybe a restart will save the day. Maybe we will just have to call it a day...

  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    In reply to 293.hardworkedandunderpaid
    Whilst I think we should do something contsuctive to help the people of Greece, you are right in saying that if we were in a true democracy the whole EU populas should vote. It would probably be the biggest logistical nightmare ever to try and conduct. And would probably take years to get the results. And I shudder to think of the costs involved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 308.

    Who started teh whole Europe ball rollong again? Oh, that's right, Churchil.

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    We have many street lamps on our roads around UK/Europe, sure they give us light, let us see, and it costs money to pay for them.
    They want more, they cost more each year, but when the bulb goes out. It needs replacing by another bulb, another idiot.
    Our democracy is just as bad, feed off the same stay the same course until the lights go out.
    lamposts should be used to hang these people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    287 WW3 - May be Goverments want wars to reduce the unemployment. Britain can use the benefit cheats as cannon fodder.

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    A global economy where our fate it tied to that of international banks was bad enough. When it is tied to the fortunes of the Greeks it has become ridiculous (Greece, I wish you well by the way). This is the global free market they have foisted on you all. It is not the only option. The federalised and homogonised EU is not the only option for being European either.

  • Comment number 304.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    266.Darren Shepperd
    "Its not what they drink its the fact they have a fair system that rewards all not just a the few at the top."
    That'll be why Germany has 52 billionaires compared with the UK's 32 and why Germany has no legal minumum wage. and of course unemployment in Germany is so much better than the UK 7% in August compared with 8.1% in the UK.
    Don't you just love armchair socialists!

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    240. Filipo

    "Could anyone honestly explain to me why they even created the EU?"

    EUpris: Megalomania! The rest is excuses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    Greece is a hypnotic irrelevence.

    All around Greece, numerous serious relevences are playing out.
    The floods in Thailand are factually causing as much financial/economic damage to world economy as Greece. Who pays the insurance, you & I will, just as we are for Japan.

    Add up Thailand/Japan economic/financial losses/costs, they are another dangerous snowball adding to potential avalanche

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    @292 bill
    "The opportunity to make the banks accountable for their follies was lost when Lehman, Northern Rock, RBS et al were bailed out"

    Absolutely correct. The banks now feel that they are immune from commercial realties and we are ALL going to suffer long term. Greece may be just the start...

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    @271. Steve Whiteside
    And as for Sarkozy saying he's sick of UK speaking up, we put billions into that white elephant, so we're ENTITLED to a presence, whether he likes it or not.
    If the discussion is on the Euro, then Sarkozy is right. The UK decided not to be part of it and doesn't want to contribute to it. That won't get you on the top table. Camoron's lucky to be invited to dinner at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    I feel very sorry for the Greeks who have been let down by their political class. Forget bankers. Successive Greek governments have mortgaged their country into the distant future, to get themselves elected today. Just as Gordon Brown did in the UK. But at least we have a chance to get out of it. I predict severe social unrest - Greece, Italy, Spain, maybe Ireland and certainly USA.

  • Comment number 297.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    I think Goldman Sachs should pay off the Greek debt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.


    JPMorgan injects CDS into the financial blood stream..THEROY?

    W, Buffett states "financial weapons of mass destruction"..THEROY?

    Glass–Steagall Act of 1932......revoked......THEROY?

    Politicians lie and are funded by the banksters......THERORY?

    Just asking.....i guess the rest is about joining up the dots & yes you can get distracted but you can also see the motive& the people behind it!


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