Greek socialists turn on PM over referendum

Greek socialists turn on PM over referendum
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The Greek prime minister’s announcement of a referendum on the country’s bailout package has thrown the domestic political scene into turmoil.

Several influential figures within the ruling socialist party have called on George Papandreou to resign. One leading MP has quit the party, cutting the government’s majority to just two.

The prime minister said he needed wider backing for the budget cuts and structural reforms demanded by international leaders.

But with protests and polls showing widespread hostility to the measures, such backing seems a long way off.

The opposition and some government MPs have demanded early elections; there have been calls for a government of national unity in the meantime.

The main opposition leader has held talks with the Greek president. Antonis Samaras described the referendum as blackmail, endangering Greece’s future and its position in Europe.

The somewhat chaotic state of the Greek political scene has been reflected in the world’s financial markets, which recorded steep falls on Tuesday after Papandreou’s announcement of the referendum. With a solution to the Greek debt problem seeming even more elusive than it did at the start of the week, investors are continuing to dump their stock.

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