GREEK Prime Minister George Papandreou was last night battling to hold the country together as political fighting and civil unrest threaten to tear it apart.
He pleaded with the Greek parliament to back his government’s plans to tackle the gaping hole in the country’s finances.
Opposition to Papandreou’s Socialist party, as well as rebellious internal factions, have signalled they are unwilling to support deeply unpopular tax hikes, spending cuts and privatisation plans.
Papandreou said the entire country is at risk of going bankrupt if it is not allowed to draw down a €12bn (£10.6bn) tranche of its bailout, which is dependent on Greece following through with tough austerity measures.
He said: “The consequences of a violent bankruptcy or exit from the euro would be immediately catastrophic for households, the banks and the country’s credibility.
“The country finds itself at a critical crossroads. I am seeking a national consensus to address the problems of the debt and the budget deficit. Our problems won’t be solved by sending away the IMF or our European partners.”
Meanwhile civil unrest continued to boil over into violence in the streets of Athens, with Greeks unwilling to accept the bitter financial medicine.
Opposition leader Antonis Samaras has demanded Papandreou steps down to pave the way for early elections and a renegotiation of the terms of Greece’s current bailout.
However, analysts are confident Papandreou, whose party has just a six seat majority, will survive a vote of confidence scheduled for tomorrow.