Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Greece PM survives confidence vote

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has won a parliamentary confidence vote (AP)
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has won a parliamentary confidence vote (AP)
Protesters demonstrate in front of the Greek Parliament in central Athens (AP)

The Greek government survived a confidence vote but has barely a week to get new austerity measures passed by parliament to avoid a potential default.

European leaders breathed a sigh of relief but kept up the pressure on Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who faces a vote on June 28 to push though more spending cuts, tax rises and asset sales.

However fearing the financial chaos that any Greek default would ignite, EU leaders promised him additional funds to help the shrinking Greek economy to get back on its feet.

Greece's creditors, particularly its partners in the 17-country eurozone, are demanding that Mr Papandreou get parliamentary approval for budget cuts and new taxes and for a sell-off of government assists by the end of June.

Only then will they hand over 12 billion euros (£10.7 billion) in bailout funds that Greece needs to avoid bankruptcy in mid-July.

A default could drag down Greek and European banks, endanger the finances of other weak eurozone countries such as Portugal, Ireland and Spain, and spark financial uncertainty across world markets.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that a default would have "completely uncontrollable" consequences on the financial markets, but she insisted that private creditors should voluntarily share the pain of a second Greek bailout.

The mood in financial markets was calm after the confidence vote early today, especially when compared to firestorm last week when Mr Papandreou's government was teetering on the brink following violent protests against the new austerity measures.

He still needs to convince several of his own Socialist MPs to support the austerity measures.

All 155 in Mr Papandreou's Socialist party voted to back their leader in the 300-seat parliament, eliminating the chance of early elections. As they voted, several thousand protesters outside parliament chanted "Thieves! thieves!" and riot police guarded the building.

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