By DEMETRIS NELLAS
ATHENS, Greece (AP) a¿¿ Greece's coalition government survived a no-confidence motion tabled by the main opposition party early Monday, and the prime minister ended three days of debate by saying the debt-ridden country should be ready to borrow mainly from the financial markets by the end of next year.
"We have got through the most difficult phase ... Greece should be able to rejoin the markets by the end of next year," Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said.
The no-confidence motion filed by the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party fell well short of the 151 votes needed to pass, with 124 lawmakers voting in favor and 153 against. Besides SYRIZA, the motion was supported by the Communist Party, the right-wing populist Independent Greeks and the extreme right Golden Dawn.The no-confidence motion was tabled Thursday, a few hours after Greek riot police ended a nearly five-month protest by fired workers broadcasting from what was once the headquarters of the defunct ERT state broadcaster. The government, under pressure by Greece's international creditors to reform the public sector, decided to close ERT in June. Although the motion of no confidence had limited chances of passing, SYRIZA used the debate to criticize the coalition government for its policies. SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras accused it of being "under foreign control" and of taxing the poor to protect the rich. Tsipras also called for early elections, saying "only the sovereign people" can cancel the bailout agreements by which Greece has received over 240 billion euros ($320 billion) to keep it from going bankrupt. That money has come in exchange for severe austerity measures that have exacerbated a heavy recession, contributed to a record 27 percent unemployment and cut deeply into Greeks' disposable income. Greece has been surviving on international rescue loans from the International Monetary Fund and other European countries that use the euro since 2010, after a combination of dismal financial leadership, loss of investor confidence and the global recession brought it to the brink of bankruptcy. Successive governments have passed repeated rounds of deep spending cuts and tax hikes to secure the bailout loans.