Greek Referendum on Bailout Called Off

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Update (2:22 p.m.): Reuters reports that Greek opposition leader Antonis Samaras is calling on Prime Minister George Papandreou to resign. Samaras, leader of the New Democracy party, is calling for a new coalition government to be formed to setup snap elections within six weeks. Papandreou continues to insist he will not resign. According to CNBC, Samaras says he wants Greece to remain in the euro zone and calls on politicians to "make sure that the government will receive the next tranche of its bailout loan from the troika consisting of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission."

Update (11:30 a.m.): News that the referendum has been called off appears to be a relief to investors. "Stocks edged up in early trading Thursday as hopes grow that a plan to tackle the European debt crisis will survive," reports the AP. At the time of the AP's story, the Dow was up 70 points. Currently, it's up 130 points while the S&P is up .94 percent. CNN Money also attributes the rise to the European Central Bank's rate cut. "The rate cut, the ECB's first in two years, gave investors some hope that incoming ECB President Mario Draghi might be more willing to intervene to buy bonds or take other steps to help the market." Needless to say, reporters are a little dizzy with the rapidly-evolving developments. "Um, to say the story is moving fast in Greece is an understatement; From rumors about who runs the gov't to now no referendum... phew," tweets MSNBC's Chuck Todd. "After watching Greece this morning, the U.S. Congress is looking awfully endearing right now," adds Huffington Post business editor Maxwell Strachan.

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Update (11:10 a.m.):  A statement from Prime Minister George Papandreou scrapping the referendum on the $178 billion European bailout package has been provided to the Associated Press. "The referendum was never an end in itself," Papandreou said. "We had a dilemma - either true assent or a referendum. I said yesterday, if the assent were there, we would not need a referendum."

Update (10:51 a.m.): The plan to hold a referendum on the $178 billion European bailout package has been scrapped, according to Greek officials speaking with The Associated Press. The news comes out of the emergency cabinet meeting held today by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. The news wire adds that Papandreou is warning against early elections saying they would cause Greece to exit the Euro zone. AFP is also reporting that the referendum plan has been scrapped.

Update: Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou will not resign yet, according to a brief update on and Greek state television. A senior government official tells state television that Papandreou is "expected to address lawmakers later in the day" while Reuters says he is awaiting the "results of talks with main opposition party."

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou will reportedly step down any minute after being pressured by both members of his own party and European leaders looking to halt aid to the debt-sunk country. Today, members of his governing party, PASOK, are expected to meet with him and call for his resignation, Reuters reports. It's unclear if Papandreou can survive a confidence vote slated for tomorrow due to his surprise decision Wednesday to hold a referendum on the $178 billion European bailout package, a move many Greek lawmakers oppose. In an interview with a Greek newspaper this morning, Papandreou's chief of staff says his boss has no intention of resigning but he may not have a choice if more socialist party members break ranks. Here's who's laying on the pressure:

His own party The BBC's Mark Lowen reports this morning that Papandreou "appears to be heading for defeat" in the confidence vote slated for Friday. His party is holding onto a majority by a thread, 152 out of 300 seats. The news service's correspondent says three PASOK members of parliament say they'll vote no tomorrow and several other officials, including government ministers, are openly attacking the referendum proposal. Additionally, Greek's finance minister Min Venizelos rebuked Papandreou's referendum decision in a widely-circulated letter. "Mr Papandreou himself is expected to step aside, our correspondent says ... Mr Papandreou is expected to offer a coalition government with a former vice-president of the European Central Bank, Lucas Papademos, at the helm."

European Leaders Meanwhile, The Washington Post's Michael Birnbaum in Greece reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are preparing contingency plans for Greece's exit from the euro zone. Until the country gives a clear signal of whether it will accept the bailout package, its lenders will halt aid to the country. "That leaves Greece’s finances in limbo. Greek officials have said that they will run out of money by mid-November if they do not receive an $11 billion installment of bailout aid before then. That money will now be on hold at least until December, unless the call for a popular vote is rescinded."

Global stocks As Business Insider notes, all of this chaos has rattled global markets this morning. "If you're just waking up, you've already missed a huge day," writes Joe Weisenthal. "It started off with hardcore selling of everything. US futures were down about 1.5 percent, and all the trouble spots in Europe (Italy, French banks, etc.) were getting crushed."

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