ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Socialist lawmakers in Greece revolted Tuesday over their prime minister's surprise decision to hold a referendum on a European debt deal, threatening the very survival of his embattled government.
Prime Minister George Papandreou's announcement on the public vote unleashed political and market turmoil around Europe and the world.
The reaction in the markets was brutal, particularly in Europe, with the Athens exchange down a massive 6.8 percent on worries the Greek government would fall and the 17-nation eurozone could break up. Germany's DAX and France's CAC-40 both slid 5.2 percent and Italy's main index fared even worse, slumping 6.7 percent.
Financial experts expressed dismay over being blindsided by the move when they thought European leaders had reached a deal to solve the continent's debt woes.
"While it may be the democratic thing to do ... what happen if Greece votes 'No'?" said Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets. "The resulting fallout could well result in a complete meltdown of the European banking system and throw Europe into turmoil."
A public vote would allow the Socialists - who have been vilified by an increasingly hostile public during months of strikes, sit-ins and violent protests over austerity measures - to pass the responsibility for the country's fate onto the Greek people themselves.
But it was not even clear if Papandreou's government would last long enough for the proposed vote to take place - or even last until a confidence vote on Friday.