Papandreou came to power two years ago as Greece sank into financial crisis, as the extent of its staggering debt — long concealed through creative accounting — became apparent to investors and alarmed eurozone partners.
As George Papandreou's new government desperately sought to save public money, slashing pensions and salaries and heaping new taxes on ordinary Greeks, Socialist dissenters were routinely expelled from parliament, wearing down his majority in parliament from a healthy 10 seats to just two.
About 90 percent of Greeks now oppose his policies, and his party has 20 percent public support, according to surveys in recent weeks.
Still, he plowed on, ignoring calls to resign. As his grip on power loosened, Papandreou sought to take his government's tough choices straight to the people — a gambit that is now looking like an act of reckless folly.
World markets tanked, and European leaders openly expressed their disbelief. Government officials said the referendum had been dropped.
The conservative daily Kathimerini described him Thursday as the “fatal prime minister.”
“With humiliating consequences for himself and his country, Mr. Papandreou chose to the roll the dice — and he lost.”