Papandreou Seeks to Shore Up Aid Support After Surviving Vote
Prime Minister George Papandreou, fresh from winning a confidence vote, will attempt to shore up support for an international rescue after Greece’s main opposition party rejected his offer to form a new government.
Papandreou will meet President Karolos Papoulias at midday to discuss his plans for a unity government after patching up a rift within his ruling Pasok party by offering to step down.
“We have to agree on common goals for a timetable and program even for the head of this government,” Papandreou told lawmakers in the early hours of this morning before winning his second confidence motion in six months. “The scale of the task facing Greece exceeds the abilities of any one party.”
Papandreou’s offer caps a tumultuous week that started with him securing a second bailout from the European Union then roiling markets by unilaterally deciding to put the terms of that rescue to the Greek people in a vote. The premier must heal political divisions to secure agreement on the aid package before Greece runs out of funds next month.
A grassroots movement that sprang to life last month is urging bank customers to close their accounts in favor of credit unions by Saturday.
The spirit behind "Bank Transfer Day" caught fire with the Occupy Wall Street protests around the country and had more than 79,000 supporters on its Facebook page as of Friday. The movement has already helped beat back Bank of America's plan to start charging a $5 debit card fee.
It's not clear to what extent the banking industry's about-face on debit card fees will extinguish the anger driving the movement. But many supporters say their actions are about far more than any single complaint.
"It's too little, too late," said Kristen Christian, the 27-year-old Los Angeles small business owner who started "Bank Transfer Day." She already opened accounts at two credit unions in preparation for cutting ties with Bank of America this weekend.
"Consumers are waking up and seeing that they have options," she said.
Even with its public support, however, it's not likely that any account closings that take place on Saturday will make a big dent with industry titans such as Chase, which is the largest bank in the country with some 26.5 million checking accounts.