Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou's socialist government, hit by economic scandals and high-level resignations, survived a crucial budget debate on Sunday night, ensuring he will go on ruling the country.

The prime minister hailed as a significant victory Parliament's approval of his administration's budget, averting his threat that the government would resign if the measure failed.On the eve of the debate, Papandreou said he regarded the budget vote as an expression of confidence for his government, six months before national elections are to be held.

"I consider the budget vote as a vote of confidence for myself and the government . . . if the budget is not passed, the government will resign," Papandreou said in a televised statement on Saturday.

All 156 deputies of Papandreou's ruling PASOK party voted for the bill. The government had needed 151 votes in the 300-seat parliament.

"All PASOK deputies are proud that our parliamentary group passed united not only the budget but also gave the government a vote of confidence . . . this is a message of victory," Papandreou told reporters after the vote.

"The effort to destabilize Greek politics failed tonight. I call upon the people and the parliament to be on the alert since the destabilization efforts are expected to continue," he added. He did not elaborate.

On Saturday Papandreou said that people close to him had tried to undermine him and defended his government's handling of recent economic scandals. Five ministers have resigned.