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German MPs vote to approve second Greek bailout

The vote was passed easily despite much scepticism in Germany about Greece’s ability to meet the terms of the second assistance package.

Merkel delivers her speech prior to the debate and vote on the Greek rescue package.
Merkel delivers her speech prior to the debate and vote on the Greek rescue package.
Image: Michael Sohn/AP/Press Association Images

GERMAN MPS HAVE voted to back to a second EU-IMF bailout for Greece in the Bundestag today.

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged parties to back to the deal despite warning that there was no guarantee it would prevent Greece from defaulting at a later date.

The idea of bailing out Greece has remained very unpopular in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, among the public and many politicians. Today the popular BILD newspaper plastered the word “STOP!” over its front pages, telling lawmakers: “Don’t keep on going the wrong way.”

While earlier today the country’s Interior Minister suggested that Greece should be encouraged to leave the eurozone. However, in the end two opposition parties supported the government as the parliament voted 496 to 90 to back the deal.

Several MPs in Merkel’s CDU party had been against the deal although it is not clear if they ended up voting against the government or not, BBC News reports.

The approval of the €130 billion package for Greece comes after weeks of brinkmanship among EU leaders amid concern that the country would be unable to meet the terms of the second bailout programme.

The rescue package is Greece’s second in less than two years and involves private-sector investors accepting total losses of more than 70 per cent on the bonds they hold, along with tough new austerity measures including cuts to wages and pensions.

Greece has been surviving since May 2010 on an initial €110 billion package of rescue loans from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund.

But more than two years of harsh austerity implemented to secure the rescue funds have left the economy in freefall, with businesses closing in the tens of thousands and unemployment at a record high 21 per cent in November.

“The road that lies in front of Greece is long and truly not without risk,” Merkel told lawmakers before the vote. “That also goes for the success of the new program — no one can give a 100 percent guarantee of success.”

The parliaments of Finland and the Netherlands, where skepticism for bailouts also is high, are to debate the package this week. However, it isn’t expected to face problems in either country.

- additional reporting from AP

Poll: Should Greece be encouraged to leave the eurozone?

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Hugh O'Connell

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