Greek coalition wins vote of confidence
ATHENS - The Associated Press
Greek PM Antonis Samaras will now face tough economic tasks. AFP photoGreece’s new three-party coalition government won a vote of confidence in Parliament early yesterday, ending a period of uncertainty that led to two elections in less than two months. However, the country has a long way to go to emerge from a deep recession and pay down its huge debt.
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.
Deputy minister quits
Meanwhile, the government suffered its third casualty when the junior labor minister resigned in a dispute over the handling of key talks with EU-IMF auditors. Nikos Nikolopoulos said he disagreed with the negotiation framework with the so-called “troika” of auditors from the EU, IMF and the European Central Bank who are holding talks with government officials on revising a massive bailout.
In a statement posted on his website, Nikolopoulos, from Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s conservative party, said “distortions” in labor and pension issues had to be addressed in the auditor talks from the start. The designated finance minister fell ill shortly after the June 17 election and had to be replaced, and the deputy merchant marine minister was forced to resign a few days later in a conflict of interest case involving the ownership of an offshore company.