Greece's prime minister struggled Saturday to form a temporary coalition government, faced with opposition calls for immediate elections that have extended a political deadlock in the debt-shackled country.
George Papandreou has agreed to step aside if necessary to help his Socialist party hammer out a fourth-month coalition he says is vital to securing a new debt deal worth an additional (EURO)130 billion ($179 billion). He said a coalition would also demonstrate the country's commitment to remaining in the eurozone.
But his offer was snubbed hours later by opposition leader Antonis Samaras.
"We have not asked for any place in his government. All we want is for Mr. Papandreou to resign, because he has become dangerous for the country," Samaras said in a televised address. "We insisted on immediate elections."
Papandreou won an early morning confidence vote in the Socialist-led parliament on a pledge that he was willing to quit and form a caretaker coalition.
Midway through his four-year term, Papandreou was forced into the move by his austerity-weary Socialist party after he abandoned a disastrous proposal to hold a referendum on a new European debt deal. The idea was quickly scrapped this week after throwing world markets into renewed turmoil and drawing an angry reaction from European leaders.
Frustrated with Greece's protracted political disagreements, the country's creditors have threatened to withhold the next critical (EURO)8 billion ($11 billion) loan installment until the new debt deal is formally approved in Greece.
Greece is surviving on a (EURO)110 billion ($150 billion) rescue-loan program from eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund. It is currently finalizing a second mammoth deal: to receive an additional (EURO)130 billion ($179 billion) in loans and bank support, with banks agreeing to cancel 50 percent of their Greek debt.