In the midst of demonstrations by Greeks and defections by members of his own political party, George Papandreou, the prime minister of Greece, addressed Parliament on Sunday to appeal for approval on Tuesday night of strict austerity measures that are deeply unpopular with politicians and citizens alike. He warned that the alternative would be disastrous.
Reuters reported that Papandreou told Parliament that Greece was at a critical crossroads and would soon be out of money unless the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) proceeded with a second bailout package. That package is contingent on Athens adopting ever more severe measures to cut its debt and raise funds through higher taxes, layoffs in the public sector, and a selloff of public assets. Papandreou was quoted saying, "The consequences of a violent bankruptcy or exit from the euro would be immediately catastrophic for households, the banks and the country's credibility."
Despite having shuffled his Cabinet after the departure of three ministers, Papandreou has a tough sell ahead, regardless of the consequences. Only 34.8% of Greek citizens want the bailout package approved; 47.5% want Parliament to reject the package and more want early elections held rather than allow Papandreou to serve out his full term.