Greece's govt to call confidence vote

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's troubled coalition government said Wednesday it would call a vote of confidence in parliament next week, hours after the country's leftwing opposition demanded early elections citing ongoing austerity measures.

Government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi the government would request the vote Monday, at the end of parliament's summer recess, but gave no further details. The vote is likely to be held late Wednesday.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' conservative-led coalition could be forced to call an early election before March as it requires opposition support in parliament to elect a new president.

The conservatives are currently trailing in opinion polls behind the opposition anti-bailout Syriza party, which is demanding that Greece renegotiates the terms of its 240 billion euro ($302.5 billion) bailout agreements with the Eurozone and the International Monetary Fund.

Inspectors from the European Union and IMF are currently in Athens for their latest review of the bailout program and on Wednesday continued meetings for a second day with cabinet officials.

The bailout money prevented Greece from filing for bankruptcy when it lost market access in 2010, but austerity measures demanded in return for the loans have led to a dramatic rise in poverty and unemployment.

"The only road for the country's salvation is the people's vote and a strong mandate for the country's recovery, and a tough renegotiation at a European level. There's no other solution," Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said.

Samaras formed a three-party coalition government in 2012, but is currently only allied with his former rival, the Pasok Socialist party. Together they have 154 seats in the 300-member parliament.

In recent weeks, several prominent Pasok officials have openly spoken in favor of siding with Syriza in a post-election coalition.

The uncertainty has taken its toll on the economy, struggling to pull out of a six-year recession. Gains on the Athens Stock Market were erased and long-declining borrowing costs rose again in September.

"The advocates of irresponsibility, populism and misery will not hold this country back," said Pasok leader and Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos. "We have a plan to get the country past this crisis and we will see it through."


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