Ministers, MPs turn against PM over referendum

Prime Minister George Papandreou is facing a major revolt from his own party this morning after returning from a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

An extraordinary Cabinet meeting has been called for noon today and several ministers and MPs have already publicly questioned Papandreou?s decision to call a referendum on whether Greece should remain in the euro or not.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who accompanied Papandreou to the meeting at the sidelines of the G20 talks in Cannes, was the first to declare his opposition the idea of the referendum but was soon followed by others.

Agricultural Development Minister Costas Skandalidis, Deputy Education Minister Fofi Gennimata, Alternate Finance Minister Pantelis Economou and Development Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis are among those who questioned the prime minister?s plans for a referendum.

Defense Minister Panos Beglitis was the only Cabinet member to back Papandreou.

Several PASOK MPs also expressed their opposition to the prime minister?s plans. Deputy and former minister Vasso Papandreou said: ?It is time to stop fooling ourselves.? She called for the formation of a national unity government.

Lawmaker Odysseas Voudouris also said he was against holding a referendum on the euro. ?Did the prime minister really propose holding a referendum on December 4 about our membership?? wondered the deputy. ?It is difficult for the government to survive in this climate.?

MP Dimitris Lintzeris said Papandreou was «part of the past» and called for the formation of a national unity government.

Another lawmaker, Eva Kaili suggested she would not back the government in Friday?s confidence vote in Parliament. There are doubts, however, whether that vote will take place as Papandreou may be forced out before then.