Europe

EU bailout vote: The view from Germany

German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler speaks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, 29 September
Image caption Before the vote there was intense lobbying by Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats

Members of parliament in Germany have voted by a large majority to support a more powerful fund to bail out troubled economies in the eurozone.

Chancellor Angela Merkel received stronger than expected support in the Bundestag despite some in her coalition vowing to oppose the bill.

Here people in Germany share their views on the vote and the wider eurozone crisis.

Esat Birgen, 40, consultant, Dusseldorf

I think there was no choice but to pass the measures at this time, but I feel very uncomfortable with the situation.

The fear is that this could be very expensive for German taxpayers.

We've had years of painful reforms and tight controls on expenditure. Look at the conditions of roads, schools and hospitals here - we're not so well off.

So it would be unfair to see our tax money potentially going to countries such as Greece - where they've had a euro party for the last ten years and haven't controlled their public spending.

Here comes a major divide between public opinion and the political class. Most Germans would appose the bailout measures or feel uncomfortable about them. But parliament voted them through with a large majority.

You can feel the impact of the political and economic crisis on the real economy. Working in business I can see that people buy less and less each day. The lack of confidence hits demand.

I think Europe is essential, but I don't think the survival of the euro in its current form is an issue of war and peace. In the long the euro will remain, but we need more centralised fiscal policy.

Annie Kuhl, English teacher, 49, Greifswald

I'm disappointed with the vote. Amongst my acquaintances there's only one person who supports an extension of the bailout fund. Politicians simply aren't listening to their voters.

Greece should default and leave the euro. I hope that this allows the Greeks to re-organise their economy.

People look at Ireland and think reform is working there - but Greece is in a different situation.

Older people in Germany have a tendency to back any measure that supports the euro, because they fear so much the possible consequences of a collapse.

But generally what I notice is a growing disillusionment with the European project. It could be Germans don't articulate their opinion as strongly as people do in the UK, but they are similarly concerned and unhappy.

Your average German is extremely worried about the economy and many are simply not spending money. My son is seven, and in his school year only one family went on holiday abroad this year. This is unusual.

Personally, I'm more concerned about European politicians using this as an excuse for further economic integration and the centralisation of power in Brussels.

Werner Brach, 72, pensioner, Thomasburg

It would be terrible to let Greece fail so I am glad the vote went through parliament.

There will always be people moaning and groaning about these decisions. People need to look at the bigger picture.

People forget what the EU has achieved. My daughter lives in London, and I sometimes transfer money over to her. It's so much simpler and cheaper than in the past.

Some may complain about helping the southern states in the EU. But isn't this part of the EU project? We are helping the poorer states in Europe.

And in a way we are just helping our own banks to recover the money that they have lent out to these countries.

There is the fear that people may loose money if Greek debts are written off. But we need to get the markets under control. And to do this we need to create confidence in European politics.

I think it would be a good thing if this crisis means the EU centralises financial powers. We need to enforce stricter tax and spend rules - there should be no excuses for countries spending more than they tax.

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