The Bundestag is expected to pass a resolution clearing the way for discussions about a third bailout package for Athens. But questions over last weekend's negotiations remain a sticking point for Merkel's government.
Chancellor Angela Merkel was expected to get most of the Bundestag's members on her side for further rounds of talks for Greece's third bailout on Friday.
In a preliminary vote a day earlier, 48 politicians from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and two out of the Social Democrats (SPD) voted against talks for a third package. Aside from former Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück and Thomas Jurck, SPD members all voted in favor of discussing a bailout for Greece. The leftists of Die Linke party, which holds 64 seats in parliament, were also expected to vote against the proposal. But those dissenters would still be far from a majority within the 631-seat Bundestag.
Several parliamentarians - especially among the Christian Democrats and their Christian Social Union (CSU) cousins in Bavaria - questioned the Greek government's commitment to implementing the package of reforms conditional to accessing loans of 86 billion euros ($93.7 billion) over the next three years. That package includes pension cuts and tax and labor law restructuring.
If negotiations are ultimately successful, the new bailout package would be Greece's third, with the first two already totaling around 240 billion euros ($261 billion).
Grexit a possibility?
Although European leaders ruled out the possibility of a Grexit during talks on Monday, the issue came up again in the Bundestag after Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble spoke Thursday about a fixed-term Grexit on German radio.
Schäuble's speculation was criticized by Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who was participating at an SPD meeting on Thursday. "I would be definitely happy if talks about a Grexit stopped," he said, adding, "If there is an agreement, there is an agreement."
Merkel and Schäuble's handling of the Greece bailout talks remain a contentious issue within the chancellor's governing coalition, consisting of the CDU, CSU and SPD. For many in the coalition, questions about Schäuble's role in the bailout talks as well as differences of opinion about whether to give Athens more money are unlikely to dissipate after Friday's vote.
mg/gsw (dpa, AFP)