A woman passes a screen showing a graph of falling stocks at the Athens Stock Exchange, in Athens, on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011. Prime Minister George Papandreou’s unexpected decision late Monday led to markets plunging Tuesday on fears that Europe’s plan to save the euro will unravel. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s prime minister held firm early Wednesday to his shock decision to call for a referendum on a hard-fought European debt deal, despite anger from abroad, market turmoil across the world and dissent from within his own party.
George Papandreou’s government still faced a battle for survival, with a vote of confidence scheduled for Friday and a grilling from frustrated European leaders expected later in the day ahead of the Group of 20 summit in the French Riviera.
After a grueling seven-hour Cabinet meeting that finished after 3 a.m. (0100GMT), government spokesman Ilias Mossialos said Papandreou’s ministers expressed “total support for the initiatives taken by the prime minister.” He said the referendum would be held “as soon as possible.”