Euro exit averted, Greece is still on the clock

George Vernichos
George Vernichos
CBS News

(CBS News) ATHENS - Greece was holding the world economy hostage this weekend. It had an election that was essentially a referendum on whether to renege on a European bailout of its economy, which could have triggered a seizure in Europe's banks.

Instead, Sunday night, Antonis Samaras celebrated a narrow victory. On Monday morning, he began the task of building a coalition government.

There is no time to waste. The Greek government is expected to run out of money as early as next month. It must renegotiate a bailout deal with Europe.

There was concern that a different election result could have triggered a run on the banks and possibly a Greek exit from the euro zone.

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No one here believes Greece's economic problems are now over, but many are relieved that a crisis has been averted, and it gives many Greeks reason to hope.

"I believe that the future of Greece is in the euro zone," said George Vernichos, owner of a yacht charter company.

Vernichos said that political instability in the country has kept tourists away.

"This year it is not so good, but I believe that now after the elections the situation will be much better," Vernichos said.

Like many business owners, he said that a pro-European government is Greece's best chance of making a recovery.

"As a businessman I want political stability. I want a strong government as much as possible to represent the Greek people the best way," Vernichos said. "I want an environment that will be more friendly to business, that will be more friendly for investments."

In many ways, Antonis Samaras has a limited mandate here. This was not a landslide victory, and the clock is ticking for him now to form that coalition government to renegotiate that bailout deal and, perhaps most importantly, for people here on the ground to start to see an improvement to their situation.

  • Clarissa Ward
    Clarissa Ward

    Foreign Correspondent, CBS News