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November 03, 2011

Greek PM Survives Confidence Vote

Greek Prime Minister survived confidence vote in parliament late Friday, avoiding early elections which would have further destabilized the eurozone.

In a speech ahead of the vote, George 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 Papandreou scrapped a controversial referendum that had angered world leaders trying to formulate the eurozone rescue plan. The Greek leader faced opposition from the New Democracy party, as well as some members of his own Socialist [ Pasok] Party.

The Greek vote concluded a week of turmoil in the eurozone, which began with 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 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.

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.

<p><span class="article11"><i><span style="font-size: 7pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;&quot;;">Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.</span></i></span></p>