Ger­many over­whelm­ingly ap­proves Greek bailout

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY KIRSTEN GRIESHABER AND DAVID RIS­ING

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.

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