Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Greece Confidence Vote: Prime Minister George Papandreou Survives

Greece Confidence Vote
The embattled government of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou survived a crucial confidence vote Tuesday.

Parliament approved the new cabinet he formed to help pass the unpopular austerity measures with 155 votes out of 300. The government needed a simple majority of 151 for passage.

Failure to get that approval would have thrown into question whether Greece could pass a new austerity bill by the end of the month as demanded by international creditors before the country could get the next instalment of its bailout — funds the country needs to avoid default.

Thousands of anti-austerity protesters massed outside parliament to hear the outcome of the vote. Many booed and chanted "Thieves" as the vote was taken. Riot police stood by.

Even more seriously, a defeat would have prompted selling in the shares in the foreign banks exposed to Greek debt. Because it isn't clear exactly how much exposure those banks have, the markets were expected to sell first and ask questions later.

Global markets have been volatile in recent weeks on worries that Greece would default on its huge debts and stoke fears over the public finances of other euro countries, such as Portugal, Ireland and Spain.

Papandreou was forced to reshuffle his cabinet last week following a major political crisis that saw him face an open rebellion from within his own party and initiate talks to form a coalition government with the opposition, which eventually collapsed.

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