The German Bundestag has voted in favor of a fresh bailout for Greece. The measure passed despite opposition from within Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.
After a debate that lasted over three hours, German lawmakers ratified a proposal from the eurozone on Wednesday to grant Greece a third credit package. The final vote tally was 454 for, 113 against and 18 abstentions.
After eurozone finance ministers and the Greek parliament approved the measures last week, ratification by the Bundestag was one of the next steps to formalize the funds for Greece.
The bill passed, but 63 lawmakers from Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), voted against the bailout and three abstained. It was supported by Merkel's coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD) and the opposition Greens party.
Third package for Greece
The package will supply cash-strapped Greece with up to 86 billion euros ($95 billion) over the next three years. The measure is intended to prevent Greece from defaulting on its loans.
The latest bailout was negotiated between Greece and its international creditors. It is tied to several conditions, including privatizations, cuts in public spending and a slew of reforms that Greek voters rejected in January, when they elected the anti-austerity Syriza government, and in a subsequent referendum.
The package also includes painful austerity measures that critics of past deals say have created a downward spiral. The Greek government, some argue, has been forced to pump money out of the country to service foreign loans, choking the domestic economy, and depriving the state of tax revenue to pay its debts.
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble kicked off the long debate in the Bundestag by urging politicians to pass the bill.
IMF participation unclear
Many German lawmakers - and Schäuble himself - were hesitant to pass another credit package for Greece without the explicit participation of the International Monetary Fund.
IMF head Christine Lagarde listened in on the eurozone's debate of the deal last week via video call before eurozone finance ministers voted to accept it, and, though she has expressed optimism, she has insisted that Greece's debt is unsustainable without some form of relief. The eurozone did not include any debt relief in the deal.
An official decision on the IMF's participation will not come until October. Schäuble said that there was not "the slightest doubt" that the IMF would sign off in October given that Lagarde endorsed the bailout now.
The governments of Spain, Austria and Estonia voted to ratify the deal on Tuesday. The final hurdle will be ratification by the Dutch parliament later on Wednesday.
Do you have something to say? Add your comments below.
kb/jil (dpa, AFP, AP)