Thousands of Greek protesters, many of them members of the nation’s Communist Party carrying red flags, have gathered in Syntagma Square in Athens outside the parliament as lawmakers debate a confidence vote that could determine the future of Prime Minister George Papandreou’s fragile government.

One banner reportedly reads: “The cost of [the] crisis should be paid by the capitalists.”

According to BBC, the protesters in the square plan to rally until the Athens parliament holds its confidence vote – which apparently till now take place until midnight (Athens time).

One correspondent for the Daily Telegraph described the scene in Athens: Red flags fill the streets of Greece. Crowds treated to barnstorming speech by Liana Kanelli, the Communist MP. She tells them Greece must leave the EU and restore control over its own affairs.”

One Communist protester in Syntagma told BBC: Only one thing should concern the Greek people -- how they can intervene drastically into [these] developments with organized political action, and overturn Papandreou and the policy that he expresses.
Gavin Hewitt, BBC Europe editor commented: “Whatever happens in the Greek parliament tonight, instability will continue to dominate the political scene for the next few weeks. If… Papandreou loses, almost certainly elections would follow, they would take weeks, and then we might not get a clear-cut result -- there might well have to be coalition-building.”

Hewitt added: “And all that time, the markets would be looking and wondering whether in the end Greece would be able to emerge from its political instability and be able to sort out its economy. That's the problem - there is no sign that we will enter calm waters any time in the near future.”

Meanwhile, it remains unclear how much support Papandreou will receive in the confidence vote, even from the his own Pasok party members (who hold a very slender majority in the parliament after the number of resignations and defections).

The Daily Telegraph reported that Greece’s environment minister George Papaconstantinou, now environment minister, will offer the government his support and urged others to follow suit.

Even if Papandreou survives the confidence vote, he will likely have to form a new coalition government with senior members of the opposition New Democracy party.