Greek PM prepares for survival vote

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is preparing to face a knife-edge vote of confidence from his parliament, a move that could decide the fate of both the nation's European bailout deal and the global economy.

Opposition politicians want Papandreou to resign and Greece to hold early elections as a price for their support for the bailout deal, which aims not only to save the country from bankruptcy but prevent its problems engulfing bigger Eurozone economies.

Analysts said Friday night's parliamentary confidence vote, which Papandreou called when he announced a plan to hold a referendum on the bailout package, which had cast doubt on Greece's membership of the Eurozone, was too tight to forecast.

However, they had a hunch that Papandreou might just scrape through even though 24 hours earlier his socialist government was on the verge of collapse.

"This is the first confidence vote in many many, years where we cannot tell what will happen in parliament. My feeling is that the prime minister will probably have a positive outcome today," said Costas Panagopoulos, head of Alco pollsters.

For Eurozone leaders - and Greece's battle to avoid a debt default - the worst possible outcome would be a stalemate, prolonging the agony over the €130bn bailout that Eurozone leaders agreed only last week.

The Greek government confirmed it had dropped the referendum plan after intense pressure from European leaders. Finance minister Evangelos Venizelos promised to drop the referendum in telephone calls to European leaders, his ministry said.

Papandreou says he announced the referendum on Monday - sending shockwaves through world markets - to ensure political consensus for the deal. His opponents have since said they will back it conditionally but accuse him of clinging to power.

"He is clinging to the steering wheel of a car that is heading over a cliff," Yannis Mihelakis, spokesman for the conservative New Democracy party, told Mega TV.