Greece on Saturday was to begin talks on forming an emergency government to drag itself out of political stalemate caused by two years of austerity after Prime Minister George Papandreou won a nail-biting confidence vote.
As the shadow of bankruptcy loomed over the crisis-hit nation, Papandreou won the parliamentary vote after pledging to initiate the talks to overcome a budding revolt from the party founded by his father nearly four decades ago.
He carried the vote, watched nervously by financial markets and fellow European leaders, by 153 deputies to 145 from the combined opposition.
Shortly before lawmakers began voting, Papandreou had announced he would see Greek President Carolos Papoulias later on Saturday to hand in his mandate and start talks on the formation of such a government.
The meeting would be held at 1000 GMT, the PM’s office said.
“Papandreou gets vote of confidence and hands over the baton,” leftist Eleftherotypia daily said in its online edition.
The ruling socialists went into the showdown with 152 deputies but added another before the night was over.
Former labour minister Louka Katseli, who had been ejected earlier this month for opposing a collective wage amendment included in a reform bill, was readmitted into the ruling parliamentary group after supporting the government.
Papandreou’s lawmakers gave him a standing ovation as he entered the chamber and again at the end of his speech.
“Honest and broad backing is called for,” he told deputies ahead of the vote. “It is time to cooperate with a sense of national responsibility,” he said.
“I am not interested in a chair, the last thing I am interested in is whether I am re-elected,” said the 59-year-old politician, who took over the party in 2004 and endured two national election defeats and a leadership challenge from current Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos before coming to power in 2009.
“If by my deeds I can give a message that we are not enemies (with the opposition) … then I will have made the greatest contribution to the country in my 30-year career,” the PM said.
“The tradition of my family would not permit me to do anything different,” said Papandreou, whose father and grandfather were also leaders of Greece.
The debate, held with several thousand communists staging a noisy protest in front of the flood-lit parliament, capped a tumultuous week for Greece.
via Greece begins talks on emergency gov’t, news, StarAfrica.com.