ATHENS, Greece – The Greek prime minister survived a crucial confidence vote early Wednesday, keeping alive a government dedicated to averting a debt default that could spark a financial maelstrom around the world.
Lawmakers voted 155 to 143 along party lines to back Prime Minister George Papandreou, who now faces a critical vote next week on a massive austerity package that Greece’s international creditors have said must pass by the end of June.
He is seeking euro 28 billion ($40.24 billion) in budget cuts and new taxes and euro 50 billion worth of privatization of public assets. Unless the new measures pass, Greece will not receive the next batch of bailout funds, worth euro 12 billion, and will face a disastrous default in July, when it runs out of money.
A default by Greece could drag down Greek and European banks and renew fears over the finances of other eurozone countries.
Papandreou must still convince all the lawmakers from his Socialist party to support the austerity bill, which has provoked strikes, riots and a slump in his popularity. While all 155 Socialists voted in favor of the confidence motion, several have publicly criticized the austerity measures and at least one has said he will not back them.
Papandreou’s government came to the brink of collapse last week as protesters rioted, two party rebels resigned their parliamentary seats and talks with the opposition conservatives over forming a pro-austerity coalition government fell apart.