Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who barely survived a confidence vote in the Athens parliament, now faces the formidable challenge of forming a new unity government, while concurrently seeking to pass a new Eurozone bailout program to save the country from bankruptcy.
The principal opposition party, New Democracy, has demanded that Papandreou call early elections and insisted it will not accept any coalition government with the current Prime Minister.
According to media reports, Papandreou visited with President Karolos Papoulias on Saturday to notify him of his intention to contribute decisively to the creation of a government of the widest possible consensus.
Papandreou said he is determined that the next Greek government -- whatever form it ultimately takes -- must ratify the European Union (EU) rescue package for Greece.
These are critical times. In the immediate future the necessary process will begin to form the widest possible consensus government, Papandreou said, according to reports.
The Prime Minister earlier expressed his concern that a lack of consensus among Greek lawmakers could doom its financial future.
A lack of co-operation could trouble how our partners see our will and desire to remain in the central core of the European Union and the euro,” he said.
Antonis Samaras, head of New Democracy, has blasted Papandreou.
The responsibility [Papandreou] bears is huge, Samaras told media. The only solution is [snap] elections.
Matthew Price, a BBC correspondent in Athens, spells out the obstacles Papandreou faces.
“Papandreou said he would contribute decisively to the new government, but it is by no means clear whether he intends to lead it,” Price said.
“The main opposition says he must resign before he takes part. Greek politics is in chaos at a time when stability is urgently needed.”
Price added: “Greece's woes have spread uncertainty in the markets, which has compounded Italy's debt problems. The cost of borrowing has shot up for Italy, and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is under intense pressure, too. The instability is spreading.”
Indeed, it remains unclear what role Papandreou will play in a new government. Although he has hinted he would be willing to step aside in the event the rescue deal is passed, he has played such games before for political gain. Moreover, he has refused to call a snap election until the bailout arrangement was completed.
One possible likely successor to Papandreou might be the current finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, a long-time rival who has openly aspired to the top job. Venizelos was among the most vocal critics of Papandreou’s proposal to put the bailout deal to a popular vote through a referendum.