Greek coalition wins confidence vote, gaining support only from own MPs

The government breezed through a confidence vote that took place after midnight on Friday as it gained the support of its own MPs but no other members of Parliament.

The final results saw 155 MPs back the coalition, two lawmakers vote “present” and 131 deputies vote against the government.

With 155 MPs in its ranks, after being boosted by the return of Nikitas Kaklamanis to New Democracy on Thursday, the government was not expected to run into any problems. It needed to secure the support of just 146 deputies as nine Golden Dawn MPs were unable to vote as they are in pretrial custody.

Addressing the House, Samaras, who is also New Democracy leader, highlighted the imminent return of growth and the possible early exit from the bailout as reasons for ensuring the coalition remaining in power.

PASOK leader and Deputy Premier Evangelos Venizelos said the coalition had put together a “comprehensive national strategy to exit the crisis.” He said main leftist opposition SYRIZA’s policies would undermine an economic recovery.

“Five years of toil and sacrifice can be undone in five days,” he said.

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras insisted that the government would soon be removed from power as it would be unable to elect a president in February.

Some independent and PASOK MPs’ suggestions the parties should come together to create a government of national unity received short shrift from New Democracy, PASOK and SYRIZA.

“We are not interested in such scenarios,” said SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis. “We believe that at this time the country needs a strong government that will defend its interests and get us out of the memorandum and the crisis.”

Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis stuck to his position that the government needed to be replaced. Kouvelis has said his party will not vote for the coalition’s candidate in February’s presidential elections.

“A change of policy in a progressive direction presupposes a change of government,” said Kouvelis.

“This government cannot and does not want to implement progressive policies. Political stability does not mean the continuation of the same policies. These policies create social instability.”

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