Germany’s powerful finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, told MPs it would be “irresponsible” not to approve a third bailout for debt-mired Greece in a vote Wednesday.
In Germany, chancellor Angela Merkel also suffered the biggest parliamentary rebellion of her reign, with 63 members of the Christian Democratic Union and Bavarian sister party the CSU voting against, with three abstaining.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday asked that the European Parliament (EP) join the group of creditors overseeing the recently-approved bailout deal.
In the Bundestag, the bailout was also expected to attract support from other parties in the chamber, including Merkel’s junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats, and the opposition Greens.
A German transport company appears to be moving ahead with buying the rights to operate 14 regional airports in Greece, as the Greek government submits to privatization deals as part of a new bailout deal to its European creditors.
The vote passed with a majority of 454 in favour, 113 against and 18 abstentions.
Though the rescue package still comfortably cleared the Bundestag and the rebellion was smaller than some in Ms Merkel’s party had feared it raises the possibility of stronger resistance down the line for any further financial assistance for Greece. Seventeen conservative backbenchers didn’t attend the session, up from just four at a similar vote on Greece in July. Several influential conservatives have expressed dismay that the global Monetary Fund will wait until October before deciding whether to participate in the bailout.
Schaeuble, who argued last month that Greece should consider a “timeout” from the eurozone, sought to shore up support for the bailout ahead of Wednesday’s vote, citing a dramatic change in the Greek government’s readiness to reform. Germany is the largest single contributor to Greece’s economic bailout.
But still a significant minority of her conservatives may vote against the 86 billion-euro bailout including CDU politician Klaus Peter Willsch who is one of those who thinks this third rescue package is a bailout too far.
“Of course, after the experience of the last years and months there is no guarantee that everything will work and it is permissible to have doubts”, said Schaeuble.
“If we don’t find a solution, we will have to do bridge financing”, he said, referring to a short-term loan so Greece can make its next debt payment on August 20.
Tsipras’ Syriza topped January’s election on a promise to bring an end to hated budget austerity measures but after months of tortuous discussions with creditors, he was forced into a U-turn so the country could get the rescue money that keeps Greece in the 19-country eurozone.