Greek PM survives confidence vote, may quit

ATHENS Fri Nov 4, 2011 7:55pm EDT

1 of 12. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou (R) and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos applaud after winning a vote of confidence in the Greek parliament in Athens November 5, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Yiorgos Karahalis

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou survived a parliamentary confidence vote on Saturday, avoiding snap elections which would have torpedoed Greece's bailout deal and inflamed the euro zone's economic crisis.

But the nation remained in political, social and economic turmoil and Papandreou signaled he would still stand down, calling for a new coalition to ram the 130 billion euro bailout deal through parliament and avoid the nation going bankrupt.

Papandreou's socialist government won with 153 votes in the 300 member parliament, and a rebellion by some dissidents in his PASOK party failed to materialize after he indicated that his term as prime minister was close to an end.

"The last thing I care about is my post. I don't care even if I am not reelected. The time has come to make a new effort... I never thought of politics as a profession," he said before the

vote.

Earlier Papandreou called for a new coalition government to approve the euro zone bailout deal, the nation's last financial lifeline, which is also the euro zone's central plank to prevent

economic crisis devastating the bloc's bigger economies.

He told parliament that he would go to the Greek president on Saturday to discuss formation of a broader-based government that would secure the euro zone bailout, adding that he was willing to discuss who would head a new administration.

Sources said Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos has won the backing of leaders of some smaller parties to support a new coalition that he would head.

The new government would call early elections in a few months after the bailout was secured, sources close to the deal told Reuters. [nL6E7M442D]

The leaders of the far-right LAOS party and another center-right party indicated after Papandreou's speech that they would cooperate in a new coalition.

Papandreou provoked uproar at home and abroad on Monday when he announced a referendum on the bailout, agreed by euro zone leaders only last week.

Under heavy domestic and international pressure, he backed down on a vote which could well have rejected the deal, potentially sinking euro zone leaders' attempts to stop the debt crisis devastating economies such as Italy and Spain.

The government officially announced earlier on Friday that the referendum would not go ahead.

(Additional reporting by Reuters Athens bureau; Writing by David Stamp; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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