Germany overwhelmingly approves Greek bailout
Germany’s parliament overwhelmingly approved a third bailout for Greece on Wednesday, removing a key hurdle to providing new loans to the country and keeping it from defaulting on its debts in as little as 24 hours.
The vote’s result also dispelled speculation that Chancellor Angela Merkel would have difficulty getting her conservative bloc to sign on. Lawmakers voted 453-113 in favor, with 18 abstentions.
The approval is among the last due from parliaments across Europe, with the Dutch scheduled to vote later Wednesday, after which Greece is expected to get the first installment of its new 86 billion euro age.
The country needs the cash to make a debt repayment Thursday. The board of the European bailout fund that will disburse the money will hold a teleconference Wednesday night to discuss the matter.
The German approval was never in doubt but in a similar vote last month, 60 members of Merkel’s conservative bloc voted against. Some local media had speculated that as many as double that could rebel this time as Germans are increasingly skeptical about giving Greece more money, but in the end only 63 from her bloc of 311 voted against.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, a senior member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic
(US$95 billion) loans pack- Party who has been one of the harshest critics of Greece, may have helped the cause as he lobbied hard ahead of the vote for the passage of Greek’s third bailout in five years.
Schaeuble told lawmakers that approval of the three-year loan package is “in the interest of Greece and the interest of Europe.” He noted that the Greek government has taken big steps over the past few weeks to restore trust with its creditors.
Schaeuble conceded that voting in favor of the bailout wasn’t an easy one for him, but that “it would be irresponsible to not use the chance for a new beginning in Greece” in light of the fact that the Greek parliament has already backed a large chunk of reform measures demanded by creditors.