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 Greek Leader Survives Vote, Bolstering Deal on Europe Debt

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Greek Leader Survives Vote, Bolstering Deal on Europe Debt Empty
PostSubject: Greek Leader Survives Vote, Bolstering Deal on Europe Debt   Greek Leader Survives Vote, Bolstering Deal on Europe Debt EmptyFri Nov 04, 2011 8:02 pm

Prime Minister George A. Papandreou of Greece survived a crucial confidence vote in the Parliament early on Saturday, a vote that signaled approval of the comprehensive deal reached by European leaders last week to stabilize the euro and to help Greece avoid defaulting on its debt.
Greek Leader Survives Vote, Bolstering Deal on Europe Debt 05greece6_337-articleLarge
Mr. Papandreou pledged to form a unity government with a broader consensus, regardless of whether or not he would lead it. The moves ended a frenetic week that began with Mr. Papandreou’s surprise call for a referendum on Greece’s new debt agreement with the European Union, which threw financial markets into disarray and even threatened to spread the contagion to Italy.

He was then forced to back away in a humiliating about-face and saw his wholesale jerseys domestic support crumble rapidly, even within his own party.

Mr. Papandreou, who had widely been expected to step down after the confidence vote, said early Saturday that he would explore the composition of a transitional unity government in a meeting with President Karolos Papoulias later in the day. Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the interim government would govern until the end of February, with early elections in March.

The prime minister won the support of 153 of the 300 lawmakers cheap mlb jerseys in the confidence vote. The result appeared to avert the risk of snap, or immediate, elections, which would have plunged Greece into political chaos. It also moves the country closer to receiving the next installment of foreign aid that it needs to prevent a default.

But it did not fully resolve the continuing political drama — including the composition of the next government.

A few hours before the vote, Mr. Papandreou offered a final appeal to Greek lawmakers, declaring his willingness to open immediate talks on a coalition government and to step aside for the good of the country.

A day after calling off the highly contentious plan for a referendum, nfl jerseys cheap Mr. Papandreou had been under intense pressure from his own socialist party and the center-right opposition to step aside even if his government survived the confidence vote, to pave the way for a unity government or early elections.

His position on stepping down had appeared to waver throughout the day on Thursday, infuriating the leader of the opposition New Democracy Party, whose hard-won support for the debt pact had been crucial to averting the referendum. Even after winning the confidence vote, Mr. Papandreou remained under so much pressure from within his own party, Pasok, that he will probably have to step aside, or initiate talks with New Democracy on the formation of a transitional government that would not include him.

New Democracy has steadfastly refused to consider talks on a jerseys wholesale transitional government unless Mr. Papandreou resigns.

The political instability comes at a crucial time. The Greek Parliament is required to take up the new debt agreement with Europe, which was hammered out in Brussels on Oct. 26 as part of the broad accord to shore up the euro.

If Parliament does not approve the deal, it could jeopardize the next installment of foreign aid — money Greece needs to meet basic expenses and prevent a default, whose worst-case outcome would have banks beginning to topple throughout Europe and would threaten other governments. Even thought he survived the vote, the prime minister is widely seen as having expended nearly all of his political capital. Ever since Greece asked for a bailout from the European Union in April yotoforum 2010, he has struggled to satisfy seemingly irreconcilable constituencies: the Greek electorate and foreign lenders.

On Friday, in a climate of intense political maneuvering ahead of the vote, the New Democracy Party held fast to its refusal to enter talks for a coalition government as long as Mr. Papandreou remained prime minister. In turn, he worked to solidify his support among Pasok dissenters.

Many in his party believe that he lost credibility by calling for the referendum. When Mr. Papandreou called off the referendum on Thursday, he cited the center-right New Democracy Party’s shift on the debt deal and called for greater consensus to push through the accord and new austerity measures it would mandate. But the two parties’ definitions of consensus diverged.

On Friday, Mr. Papandreou’s finance minister, Mr. Venizelos — seen as a political rival as much as an ally — spoke on the telephone with some of the crucial players behind the debt agreement, which calls for private banks to take a 50 percent writedown on the face value of some of their Greek debt.

Among them were the chairman of the euro zone finance group, Jean-Claude cheap jerseys Juncker; the European economic and monetary affairs commissioner, Olli Rehn; and the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble. Mr. Venizelos reassured them that the Greek government would be able to unite behind the debt agreement after the confidence vote.

The Finance Ministry said in a statement that Mr. Venizelos had told the European Union officials that the government “aimed to win the vote of confidence tonight, not to continue alone with the support only of members of Parliament from the governing Pasok Party, but to achieve the greatest possible consensus and cooperation for the benefit of the country and subsequently form a government reflecting this consensus.”

Intended to reassure financial markets and Europe more generally, Mr. Venizelos’s statement was also seen as an effort to exert his own authority. A socialist stalwart, he lost to Mr. Papandreou in elections for the party leadership in 2007.
A more reform-minded wing of Pasok, which includes Health Minister Andreas Loverdos and Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou, wrote an open letter to Mr. Papandreou earlier this month criticizing him for not carrying out structural changes quickly enough.

In a statement issued Friday, Mr. Loverdos said that he would support Mr. Papandreou in the confidence vote, but that unless talks began immediately for a unity government, “I will have no involvement in the political process that follows.”
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