• Germany's news in English

Merkel faces major test in debt vote

The Local · 29 Sep 2011, 12:00

Published: 29 Sep 2011 12:00 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Under the spectre of a looming Greek default, Germany's 620-member Bundestag will likely be the latest of the 17 eurozone parliaments to ratify an expansion of the €440 billion ($599 billion) bailout fund.

Pressure mounted further after US President Barack Obama said Europe's failure to tackle the Greek debt was "scaring the world" and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a response that was "strong, flexible, and most importantly, effective."

But Germany's eurozone partners and financial markets are expected to greet Berlin's approval with relief, not least because of a threatened revolt within Merkel's governing coalition.

While the bill is expected to pass since the main opposition parties have pledged to vote in favour, Merkel faces the humiliation of having to rely on their support, raising doubts over the future of the coalition running Europe's top economy.

Weighing up the importance of Thursday's vote both for Europe and for the German political landscape, Berlin's Tagesspiegel daily said it was "perhaps the most important decision" of the coalition.

"Without an approval by the German parliament, the future of the euro would be called into question," it said in Wednesday's edition.

German lawmakers will decide whether to expand the scope and size of the EU's current rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), which

has already helped bail out Ireland and Portugal.

Berlin's contribution to the EFSF would increase to more than €200 billion ($270 billion) in debt guarantees – the largest share.

International auditors are resuming talks Thursday in Greece to decide whether the government in Athens is doing enough to merit more financial aid, amid mounting social tension over the government's austerity measures.

Two days ahead of the German parliamentary vote, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou insisted during a visit to Berlin that Athens was making a "superhuman effort" to bring down its debt.

Merkel, in response, pledged every assistance. "We want a strong Greece in the euro area … Germany is ready to give all the help required," she said.

But if Merkel fails to get a so-called “chancellor's majority,” meaning if 19 or more coalition members vote against, it could prove a blow that risks destabilizing the coalition.

"If Merkel does not get enough votes from her own camp, it would be a sign of weakness. The financial markets would probably go crazy again. And Germany would have a huge government crisis," the mass circulation Bild said.

Story continues below…

Slovakia has announced it will not hold its parliamentary vote until October 25. Finland, another country with deep-rooted reluctance to bailing out eurozone strugglers, finally approved changes to the fund on Wednesday.

Finland's approval brought to 10 the number of eurozone parliaments that

had ratified the boosting of the fund.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd