Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Towards a 'Third Intifada'?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Germany and Russia discuss secret Ukraine deal

Read more

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians: Nowhere to Run? (part 2)

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

France commemorates a hero of the left

Read more

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians: Nowhere to Run?

Read more

WEB NEWS

Fake Twitter accounts spread chinese propaganda

Read more

FOCUS

What solutions for California's overcrowded prisons?

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Gaza conflict: Palestinians mark sombre Eid

Read more

WEB NEWS

Celebrities in the Israel-Gaza crossfire

Read more

  • Israel calls up 16,000 more reservist as Gaza death toll soars

    Read more

  • Scores feared dead in India landslide

    Read more

  • Video: Inside Hamas ‘terror’ tunnels in Gaza

    Read more

  • Sierra Leone quarantines Ebola outbreak epicentres

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • Iraq's Christians: Nowhere to Run?

    Read more

  • US House votes to sue Obama for over-reaching his powers

    Read more

  • Argentina fails to reach deal with creditors

    Read more

  • Women should not laugh in public, Turkey's deputy PM says

    Read more

  • Suspect in Jewish Museum attack charged with 'terrorist' murder

    Read more

  • Fourth female suicide bomber targets Nigerian city

    Read more

  • US rebounds to 4% growth in second quarter

    Read more

  • Rats on the rampage at Louvre museum gardens

    Read more

  • 'Compelling' signs Kosovo leaders trafficked organs, prosecutor says

    Read more

Europe

Greek government wins confidence vote

Video by Kate Moody

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-07-09

Greece’s new coalition government won a vote of confidence in parliament on Monday, putting an end to months of political instability. The government now faces the huge task of asking Greece’s creditors to ease the terms of the debt bailout package.

AP - Greece’s new three-party coalition government won a vote of confidence in parliament early Monday, ending a period of uncertainty that led to two elections in less than two months, though the country has a long way to go to emerge from a deep recession and pay down its huge debt.

There were no surprises in the vote. All 179 deputies of the three parties supporting the government - conservative New Democracy, the socialist PASOK and the moderate leftist Democratic Left - voted in favor. Voting against were the 121 deputies of the Radical Left Coalition (Syriza), the nationalist right Independent Greeks, the extreme right Golden Dawn and the Communist Party.

In his concluding speech just before the vote, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said that, despite their diverse political backgrounds, the three coalition partners have a unity of purpose - to keep the country in the Eurozone and out of its deepest and longest recession, now in its fifth year.

In the third quarter, the country’s GDP had its sharpest drop yet, declining 9.1 percent compared to the same period in 2011. Greece’s battered economy is forecast to shrink 6.7 percent for the whole year, far above earlier official forecasts of a 4.5 percent shrinkage.

“Us three, we have admitted our past mistakes and we are now embarked in a common cause,” Samaras said, addressing the opposition. “You keep clinging to your own dogmas and the same old populist logic. ... Unfortunately, (our opponents) don’t seem to have matured. Fortunately, we don’t take them seriously,” he said.

The prime minister will need to perform a juggling act between conflicting demands

Samaras attacked Syriza, accusing them of trying to undermine any attempts at reform because they want to lead Greece out of the euro. He specifically accused Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras for warning prospective investors, politicians and civil servants that agreeing to and implementing privatizations might lead to investors losing their money and civil servants and politicians to jail.

“You are trying to intimidate us into doing nothing...you play the same game as those who want to push Greece out of the euro,” Samaras said. “Look, Mr. Tsipras. You better drop your threats.”

The coalition partners have vowed to try to convince Greece’s lenders - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - to extend by up to three years the period of “fiscal adjustment” Greece must undergo to start producing budget surpluses and to ease the terms of the bailout deals. But they know this will be no easy task.

“Extending the period of fiscal adjustment means we will need extra money from our creditors,” acknowledged socialist leader and former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos in his speech to Parliament on Sunday night, hours before the vote.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras warned Parliament that Greece has received so much money and at such favorable terms that it cannot afford to make any unilateral changes to the bailout deals, but needs the consent of its creditors.

“The eurozone and the international community have provided Greece, in loans and grants, with a total of €500 billion ($614 billion), more than 250 percent of our GDP,” Stournaras said Sunday. “The loans are provided with an interest of 3.5 percent and a very long repayment period. ... Without that money, our standard of living would regress back to that in 1960.”

Stournaras met Sunday with representatives of Greece’s creditors who warned him, according to a finance ministry source, that he won’t have an easy time in Monday’s Eurogroup - the meeting of the Eurozone finance ministers.

However, he appeared upbeat after the confidence vote, telling The Associated Press that “with such a vote of confidence, I simply have a greater ability to speak up at the Eurogroup,” Greece’s lenders have noted, however, that several programs and actions have fallen behind schedule.

The two consecutive elections, on May 6 and June 17, are largely to blame for this inaction. Until the government picks up the pace, Stournaras and his advisers fear that lenders could balk at providing more bailout funds.

On August 20, Greece must find ¤3.26 billion ($4 billion) to repay a maturing bond, money that the country does not have now and that the lenders must provide if Greece is to avoid defaulting on this payment. The country is also hard pressed to find money to pay civil servants’ salaries and pensions. In the negotiation process, the lenders are holding the lifeline.

Date created : 2012-07-09

  • GREECE

    Greece names second finance minister in five days

    Read more

  • GREECE

    Greece seeks to ease bailout conditions

    Read more

  • GREECE

    New Greek government unveils cabinet

    Read more

COMMENT(S)