Europe

Greece bailout: German MPs back deal after Schaeuble appeal

  • 19 August 2015
  • From the section Europe
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a special meeting at the Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, 19 August 2015 Image copyright EPA
Image caption There were fears that a sizeable rebellion could weaken Mrs Merkel's authority

German MPs have voted by a large majority to approve a third bailout deal for Greece.

In total 453 members of parliament voted in favour, while 113 rejected the bailout and 18 abstained.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had earlier warned MPs that it would be "irresponsible" to oppose the €86bn ($95bn; £61bn) package.

A first tranche of about €25bn is now being made available to meet Greece's debts and help recapitalise its banks.

Greece is due to make a new debt payment to the European Central Bank on Thursday.

Rescue package

Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right conservative bloc has been divided over the deal.

Prior to the vote, nearly 60 of her own MPs had indicated they would vote against the rescue package.

In total 47 MPs did not attend the session.

It is thought a significant proportion are conservatives, who stayed away to avoid defying Mrs Merkel and voting no to the deal, reports the BBC's Jenny Hill in Berlin.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption German MPs have been worried about the extent of any debt write-off for Greece
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said it would be "irresponsible" not to seize this chance

Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrat (CDU) party and its Bavarian CSU allies hold 311 seats in the 631-seat Bundestag. Mrs Merkel's coalition partner, the Social Democrats, supported the deal, as did the opposition Greens.

Last month, 65 CDU/CSU politicians refused to support even starting negotiations for a third bailout.

Doubts

Despite being one the harshest critics of Greece's left-wing Syriza government, Mr Schaeuble told MPs before the vote that they should give Greece the opportunity of a new start even though there was no guarantee that it would work.

MPs have been worried about the extent of any debt write-off for Greece and whether the International Monetary Fund will back the bailout.

The IMF is avoiding any commitment until Greece's progress is assessed in October.

Some German MPs suspect that the deal could lead to part of Greece's large debt being written off - with EU taxpayers having to foot the bill.

Reneged on pledge

German MPs had to be recalled from their summer break for the emergency vote on the deal, which has already been approved by Greece's parliament and eurozone finance ministers.

On Tuesday, MPs in Austria, Estonia and Spain backed the bailout. The Dutch parliament also bitterly debated the bailout on Wednesday.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Tsipras agreed to painful state sector cuts to secure the bailout
Image copyright AP
Image caption The vote in Germany has been closely watched in Athens

Doubts remain about the Greek government's commitment to the bailout conditions because it previously pledged to oppose austerity.

In exchange for the bailout - and keeping Greece in the euro - Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agreed to further painful state sector cuts, including far-reaching pension reforms.

The new loans will be spread over the next three years.

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