The German Parliament approved a massive new bailout package for Greece with an overwhelming majority. While it was certain that the legislation would go through due to the large coalition that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has, there were reports that many of her deputies opposing the deal could turn the other way. This is the third bailout in five years for Greece. Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had opened the debate telling MPs it would be ‘irresponsible’ not to approve the bailout. Lawmakers in the Bundestag lower house approved the 86 billion euro ($95 billion) rescue plan by 453 votes to 113 with 18 abstentions.
“Athens had earned a fresh opportunity to salvage its economy with the help of its eurozone partners, including de facto paymaster Germany,” said Mr Schaeuble. “There is no guarantee that all of this will work and there can always be doubts,” he added. “But considering that the Greek Parliament has already approved most of the (stipulated reform) measures, it would be irresponsible not to seize this chance for a new beginning in Greece,” he said to applause from the chamber as Merkel looked on. It was carpe diem for Finance Minister Schaeuble who stole the show with his impressive speech.
Schaeuble known to be a fiscal hawk and having participated in a number of rounds of bailout negotiations with Greece insisted that the deputies could back the package with a clear conscience. In the end, 63 conservative rebels cast ‘No’ ballots and three abstained. This was only a slight increase from last month’s vote where 60 had voted against the bailout package. Some of the leading German newspapers had predicted that as many as 120 deputies could vote the other way with Ms Merkel staring at the prospect of a massive internal revolt.
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