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Greek PM wins vote, to meet president on coalition

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou survives a vote of confidence in parliament on Saturday, avoiding snap elections that would have torpedoed Greece's debt bailout deal and inflamed the euro zone's economic crisis

Reuters , Saturday 5 Nov 2011
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Greece remains mired in political, economic and social turmoil. Papandreou signalled he would stand down and was to meet the Greek president at noon (1000 GMT) to discuss the formation of a new coalition to ram the 130-billion-euro bailout deal through parliament and avoid the nation going bankrupt.

Papandreou's socialist government won with 153 votes in the 300 member parliament, and a rebellion by some dissidents in his PASOK party failed to materialise after he indicated that his term as prime minister was close to an end.

"The last thing I care about is my post. I don't care even if I am not re-elected. The time has come to make a new effort ... I never thought of politics as a profession," he told parliament before the vote.

Papandreou said a coalition government should secure the approval of the EU/IMF bailout deal, the nation's last financial lifeline, which is also the euro zone's central plank to prevent economic crisis devastating the bloc's bigger economies.

The leaders of France and Germany told Papandreou this week that Greece would not get a cent more of aid if Greece failed to approve the bailout, meaning that the state would run out of money in December.

Papandreou told parliament that he would go to the president on Saturday to discuss the formation of a broader-based government that would secure the bailout, adding that he was willing to discuss who would head a new administration.

Newspapers labeled the confidence victory as little more than a deal paving the way for a new government without Papandreou. The pro-government Ta Nea ran with "New government now!"

Greece has been racked by torment since soon after Papandreou won power in 2009 and revealed that the real budget deficit was three times bigger than original estimates put out by his conservative predecessor.

International investors took fright, Greece's borrowing costs soared and Papandreou was forced to go cap in hand last year to the only bodies still willing to lend at affordable rates -- the European Union and IMF.

In return they demanded wave after wave of spending cuts, tax rises and pension cuts which provoked widespread protests on the streets on Greek cities, with bloody clashes between demonstrators and riot police in Athens.

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