ATHENS | Sat Nov 5, 2011 6:58am EDT
Hours after surviving a parliamentary confidence vote, Papandreou told President Karolos Papoulias that Greece had to avoid early elections, as he pushed for a broad-based government to secure a bailout -- the main weapon in the euro zone's battle against its spreading economic crisis.
"My aim is to immediately create a government of cooperation," he told the president in the presence of reporters before the two leaders began talks behind closed doors. "A lack of consensus would worry our European partners over our country's will to stay in the euro zone."
"Consensus is the one and only way," Papoulias responded.
In a late night speech to parliament, Papandreou said the new coalition should be formed to ram the 130-billion-euro ($179 billion) bailout deal through the assembly, the last financial lifeline for a nation that is due to run out of money in December.
Without saying when he might quit, Papandreou, who has led Greece through two years of political, economic and social turmoil, said he was ready to discuss who should lead the new government which would rule until elections probably early next year.
"The last thing I care about is my post. I don't care even if I am not re-elected. The time has come to make a new effort ... I never thought of politics as a profession," he told parliament before the vote in the early hours of Saturday.