Europe has told Greece to unite behind a faltering austerity program to stay in the euro. Antonis Samaras, poised to become Greek premier, has a history of stoking divisions inside and outside his New Democracy party.
Greek police fired tear gas to disperse protesters in the center of Athens as labor unions shut down government services before a vote on austerity measures that may determine if the nation can avoid a default.
Prime Minister George Papandreou struggled to hold on to power after Greece’s largest opposition party rebuffed his overtures to form a national unity government, raising the prospect of elections that could delay aid needed to prevent default.
Greece’s parliament approved austerity measures demanded by the European Union and International Monetary Fund as a condition to secure a 110 billion-euro ($140 billion) bailout, as the nation mourned three victims of Athens protests against the plan.
Greece prepared for a new prime minister to lead an interim government of national unity as state-run NET TV and To Vima newspaper reported that former central banker Lucas Papademos will accept the post.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou clinched enough votes to pass the first part of an austerity plan aimed at meeting European Union aid requirements and staving off default for his debt-laden nation.