Greece’s Governing Coalition Wins Confidence VoteSoutheast Europe | October 11, 2014, Saturday // 11:57| views
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras speaks during discussion on a confidence vote in Parliament in Athens, 10 October 2014. Photo EPA/BGNES
Greece's Conservative-Socialist governing coalition won a confidence vote early on Saturday, thus avoiding early elections for the time being.
The vote was called by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in an effort to rally support for his plan to abandon a much-detested EU/IMF bailout package 15 months early, despite the potential loss of about EUR 15 B in future aid.
Samaras secured the backing of all 155 MPs from the government coalition of his New Democracy party and Socialist PASOK party in the 300-seat parliament for the vote, defeating the 131 opposition lawmakers that rejected the confidence motion. Two MPs abstained.
The result could be seen as a test whether the coalition cabinet will be able to win a supermajority of 180 votes in Parliament needed to elect the next Greek president in February 2015. If it fails to secure support of smaller parties and independent lawmakers, then it will have to call early parliamentary elections.
"The only thing that seems to be worrying markets now is the so-called political risk, which means whether the political stability which we restored will be maintained," Samaras said. "With this vote of confidence we are cementing this stability."
The radical-leftist Syriza party, which is the second-biggest party in parliament, and several other small parties that oppose the austerity measures imposed on Greece by its international lenders, have vowed to block Samaras’candidate for president.
Defending his decision to exit from the bailout programme in DecemberSamaras stressed that “Greece has emerged from its crisis and won’t be dragged back in.”
The government is expected to resume negotiations next month with inspectors from the the so-called troika of international lenders (the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF) on further reforms Athens must make to qualify for fresh aid. Also in November, the government will ask Parliament to approve the next year’s budget.
In exchange for the emergency loans from the troika Greece imposed tough income cuts and raised taxes, in an austerity drive that worsened a deep recession and led to the loss of about a million jobs.
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said on Friday the party is asking for most of Greece’s debt to be written off and the repayment of the remaining part to be linked to the pace of Greece's expected economic growth.
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