Saturday, November 05, 2011

Greece in the limelight

Before the pivotal vote last night, Papandreou spoke in the Greek parliament. We picked him up at 21:42hrs local time GMT ... two hours later in Athens, and followed the action on the Athens News blog, read across to Greek language local television for live pictures. The vote was originally expected just after 22:00hrs Z (just after midnight, Greek time).

Papandreou announced that, if he won the vote, he would go to president to discuss forming government of national unity. "I don't care if I'm not re-elected", he said. "It's time for cooperation ... We have to stop fighting battles of yesterday". He concluded: "I'm sure we will go forward together", to a standing ovation.

Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga's response was sharp: The new government will last two years. It will be used to pass even harsher measures. You are about to pass the most barbaric measures in the history of this country. Well enough is enough. We are not going to be blackmailed! I guess she was not a happy bunny.

Speeches continued, but none of the live blogs were bothering to translate. Well past midnight, Greek time, and there was no word on when they would vote. But then Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos closed the debate. He said the country needed effective government, and said an interim government would stay in power until February. Then there would be elections.

Just seconds before 00:30hrs Greek time (22:30 GMT), the vote started. It was done as a roll call - the names were read out, and each MP responded (above). "Neh" means "yes", which gave a bizarre flavour to the vote. "Oichi" means "no" and there were a lot of those. With the slowness of the call, the vote was then expected about 01:00hrs Greek time (23:00 GMT).

The rebellion had collapsed. The last of the PASOK rebel MPs, Lintzeris, voted yes, a fait accompli. Papandreou carried it, it seemed. The clerks checked the vote. Officially declared at 01:04hrs Greek time: "Yes" 153, "No" 145. Papandreou had won. Those remaining in the chamber applauded - a standing ovation. Even Papandreou applauded. How terribly continental ... and with one bound, he was free.

However, the BBC had the story on Thursday (below). And, as you all know, the BBC can never, ever be wring wrong.