The coalition government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras faced a confidence vote Sunday that closes three days of tense debate over ways to both satisfy EU-IMF lenders and offer Greeks a break from austerity.
The outcome of the vote in parliament held little mystery with Samaras' conservative New Democracy party leading a coalition of 179 seats in the 300-seat chamber with the socialist PASOK party and the much smaller Democratic Left.
"The goal of the government is to guarantee the place of Greece in the eurozone against those who want to undermine it," Samaras told lawmakers in his first major address as Greece's new leader after winning an election in June.
In his Friday speech outlining the government's policy, Samaras insisted that Greece would push through delayed reforms, but would also request a break from its EU-IMF bailout terms to ease the burden on a country fed up with austerity.
"Our problem is not adopting reforms, which we will do without question. It is not reaching an objective, which we will meet. But it is finding an end to the recession," the 61-year-old prime minister said.
Since the election, coalition members have made plain their desire to revisit terms of the second 130-billion-euro ($160-billion) bailout agreed with creditors from the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.
PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, who helped negotiate the bailout deal last winter, said Greece must seek new terms and extend a deadline to balance its budget by three years.
And new Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras reiterated in parliament Saturday that "an extension" was necessary.
However, he cautioned that Greece could not launch a renegotiation without first "taking the measures delineated in the adjustment plan."
"We must adopt the measures included in the second loan in February so that we do not threaten the release of this loan," Stournaras said drawing outbursts from leftist opposition lawmakers.
The government said privatisations would be sped up, including all or portions of the electric and water utilities, the post office but also airports, the national railway network and some hospitals.
And in a bid to drum up investors, Stournaras floated the idea of Greece accepting outstanding Greek debt bonds as payment for national assets.
Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the leftist Syriza party that came in a close second in the June election, accused the government of selling off state entities "like a real estate agent."
"The government will have to account for its actions, the looting of public goods," Tsipras said, accusing Samaras and his ministers of reneging on an electoral promise to revisit the bailout agreement.
Syriza, the KKE communists and the neo-nazi Golden Dawn party have each indicated they will oppose the Samaras government in the confidence vote which is expected at midnight (2100 GMT) in Athens.
Winning any kind of reprieve from lenders will not be easy as officials from Greece's creditors have shown stiff resistance to renegotiation talk.
An EU official said Friday that Greece will not receive its next tranche of bailout of aid, reported to be 31.5 billion euros on August 20, unless it continues the implementation of economic reforms demanded.
The parliament session comes as auditors from the EU and IMF continue to probe Greece's finances. Their conclusions, expected later this month, will help lenders decide whether to proceed with Greece's current loan programme.
On Sunday Stournaras met again with the auditor team.
After his first meeting with auditors Thursday, Stournaras admitted to reporters that Greece had fallen behind in its programme, led off course by an extended election season.
On Monday, Stournaras is to attend a Eurogroup ministers meeting in Brussels which will be "a first exchange of views on what the intentions of the Greek government are," an EU official said.
Members of the troika audit team will also attend to brief eurozone and EU ministers on their findings so far.
Source: AFP Global Edition