• Germany's news in English

MPs vote through third Greek bailout package

AFP/DPA/The Local · 19 Aug 2015, 13:12

Published: 19 Aug 2015 08:21 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Aug 2015 13:12 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

With 454 voting in favour of the bailout package, 113 against and 18 abstentions, 63 MPs from Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) voted against the plan, while three abstained and 17 were absent altogether - leaving the party with just 228 votes from its 311 MPs.

Schäuble's plea

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble had earlier opened debate on the bailout with a final call for his party colleagues' support.

The new deal was "in the interest of Greece and the interest of Europe," Schäuble told the Bundestag (German parliament).

"Of course after the experiences of the past months and years, there is no guarantee that everything will work. And doubts are always permitted.

"But given the fact that the Greek parliament has already agreed a majority of the measures, it would be irresponsible not to use the chance for a new beginning in Greece," Schäuble said.

The Finance Minister went on to reassure MPs that the International Monetary Fund - which he called "indispensable" to the deal's credibility - would be on board by October.

But he warned that the government in Athens would have to stick to the commitments it had made to other members of the euro single currency, as well as ruling out a debt 'haircut'.

Schäuble and Chancellor Angela Merkel feared a sizeable rebellion from lawmakers within the ranks of the CDU despite the Finance Minister's new-found enthusiasm for the deal.

Rebellion in the ranks

Approval of the latest €86-billion emergency rescue plan for Athens was seen as assured given the 504 seats Merkel's left-right "grand coalition" holds in the 631-seat Bundestag lower house.

With the Netherlands, Germany is one of the last eurozone countries to vote, after positive results from other countries, including SpainAustria, and Estonia earlier this week.

Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader in the Bundestag Thomas Oppermann mocked the far-left Linke (Left) party for "stabbing their sister party [Greek governing party Syriza] in the back" as he spoke in support of the deal.

But grumbling has grown ever louder within the CDU bloc over lifelines thrown to the Greek government of leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, an outspoken critic of the eurozone's de facto paymaster Germany.

Sixty of the 311 members in Merkel's parliamentary group voted last month against authorizing the start of negotiations with Greece on a new rescue package - defiance that was considered a blow to the chancellor.

And conservatives were urged to block the deal on Wednesday by an editorial in Germany's biggest selling tabloid, Bild, in which editor-in-chief Kai Diekmann urged MPs to vote against the package.

"Today's vote will not save Greece, it will not save the euro and it will not save Europe," he wrote.

"On the contrary, it damages the European ideal because it divides, rather than unites. Worst still, the old ghosts of pre-EU Europe have resurfaced - the worst outcome of the EU's Greek policy," referring to the divisive debates of recent months.

Before Wednesday's vote sources in Berlin said the number of those defectors could rise when MPs were called back from holidays to cast their ballots.

"If we're honest, this is a hidden debt haircut (writedown) at the expense of our children and grandchildren," conservative lawmaker Dagmar Woehrl told Tuesday's Rheinische Post newspaper, signalling her decision to vote 'no'.

However, the Christian Democrats' general secretary, Peter Tauber, warned that a vote against the bailout was "tantamount to stabbing the Chancellor in the back" two years before the party fervently hopes to see her stand for a fourth term.

Underlining the stakes involved, the party's chief whip Volker Kauder this month vowed to impose sanctions on any dissidents in his ranks -- a threat that may have backfired by antagonizing backbenchers.

Clear conscience

Wednesday saw Merkel dispatch trusted allies, including her powerful hardline Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, to talk conservative MPs out of allowing their misgivings to get the upper hand.

Schäuble threw his weight behind the plan approved by eurozone finance ministers on Friday in an interview with public broadcaster ZDF, calling support for it "the right decision with everything taken into account".

Addressing nagging doubts about the International Monetary Fund's involvement in the bailout, a sacred cow to most conservatives, Schäuble asked them to trust the IMF would agree by October to participate in the bailout.

"I am quite certain that we will come to a common assessment of the situation and I am also quite certain that the IMF will take part in this programme," he said.

A Commerzbank research note outlined the reasons for the German attachment to IMF involvement in the bailout, seeing it as a guarantor of stability and rigour.

Story continues below…

"The IMF is the only organisation which has decades of experience with helping failing countries," it said.

 "And it can only use this expertise if it has the opportunity to exercise pressure" by helping to foot the bill.

No debt writedown - but no Grexit

Schäuble last month floated the prospect of Greece taking a "timeout" from the euro as an alternative to a fresh bailout, horrifying some eurozone partners but convincing voters at home of his vigilance on conditions of aid to Athens.

Now, he has said repeatedly in interviews over the last week that he can ask German lawmakers to approve the rescue deal with a clear conscience.

Merkel on Sunday credited the "tough stance" by Berlin and Schäuble in particular with convincing Greece to swallow bitter pills she says are required to "get it back on its feet", including deep-cutting economic

In recent days Berlin has hailed a dramatic change in tone from Athens, particularly since the departure last month of flamboyant ex-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, a virulent critic of Berlin's austerity demands.

But while the IMF has insisted on significant debt relief for Greece, Germany has ruled out a writedown and argued instead for longer maturities or lower interest rates on the principle.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Anger as Berlin scraps 'Armenia genocide' concert in Turkey
The Dresden Symphony Orchestra. Photo: DPA

Germany's foreign ministry Tuesday scrapped a planned symphony performance on the Armenian "genocide" in its Istanbul consulate, sparking accusations that it was caving in to Turkish pressure.

Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
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