Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has won a crucial parliamentary confidence vote.
His PASOK party only had a slim majority – 152 of the 300 seats – and some of his MPs had threatened to vote against him. In the end, he was supported by his whole party.
The victory staves off calls for an early election over the country’s debt crisis, which is having an impact across Europe and rattling nerves around the world.
But Papandreou said he would go to the president on Saturday to talk about forming a broad coalition government – with or without him at the helm.
He said: “The last thing I care about is my position. I have said it before and I will say it again. I say it to Greece, I say it abroad: I don’t care if I am ever elected again.”
Outside the parliament building, thousands of communists and other leftists held a protest calling for early elections.
Before the confidence vote, Papandreou gave a defiant speech.
He defended his decision to call a referendum, saying he wanted the people to have their say. He expressed his faith that the public would have realised the October 27 bailout package is in the country’s best interests and would have voted yes. Papandreou criticised the opposition parties for being ‘scared’.
The prime minister said now is the time to build a multi-party consensus on necessary reforms so the 130 billion euro bailout package can go ahead.