The German parliament has approved the latest round of eurozone aid, helping to pave the way for a Spanish bank bailout. But many legislators have expressed reservations about just how much more money Berlin can give.
The lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag, has overwhelmingly approved Spain's 100 billion euro ($123 billion) bank bailout, despite growing unease within both the conservative governing coalition and center-left opposition about eurozone aid money.
"In this exceptional situation, we are helping the Spanish state to battle against the overblown nervousness of the financial markets…," said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble during the parliamentary debate.
"We are therefore making our contribution to the overall stability of the eurozone," he said.
Thirteen parliamentarians abstained from the vote. Several members of Merkel's Christian Democrats and her junior coalition partners, the Free Democrats, voted against the bailout.
Although the center-left opposition - made up of Social Democrats and Greens - voted largely in favor of the bailout, they expressed growing skepticism toward European measures aimed at containing the eurozone's sovereign debt crisis.
"How many rescue packages are we actually going to need?" asked SPD parliamentary chief Frank-Walter Steinmeier. "It cannot go on like this."
Germany is putting up some 30 percent of the aid money for Spain. The debate in Germany has focused on who is liable for the loans if Spain cannot meet its financial obligations.
Berlin has insisted that until a pan-European banking oversight body is established, Madrid is responsible for all financial obligations associated with the aid money.
"Spain makes the application, Spain gets the money to recapitalize its banks and Spain is liable as a country for the aid," Schäuble said.
Spain is expected to receive the first 30-million-euro tranche of aid by the end of July.
slk/sej (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)