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Merkel faces rebellion over Greek bailout

August 19, 2015

Germany's lower house, the Bundestag, is expected to vote overwhelmingly in favor of a third bailout for Greece. However, Chancellor Angela Merkel has been facing a rebellion from within her own party ahead of the vote.

Deutschland Bundestagsdebatte zu Griechenland Merkel und Schäuble
Image: Reuters/F. Bensch

Although a significant number of Merkel's conservative lawmakers appeared likely to vote against the 86-billion-euro ($94.84-billlion) bailout for Greece on Wednesday, a clear majority appeared to be in favor.

The bailout was also expected to attract support from other parties in the chamber, including Merkel's junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats, and the opposition Greens.

In a mock vote on Tuesday to test the mood among Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party the CSU, 56 of the 311 conservative lawmakers voted against the bailout, while four of them abstained.

While few expect the measures to be rejected in the Bundestag vote - for which parliamentarians were recalled - the antipathy of a considerable portion of CSU and CDU members of parliament has been seen as a warning.

Ahead of the Tuesday evening test vote, Merkel and her finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble (pictured with Merkel above, at right), urged party parliamentarians to vote "yes."

Final chance for success?

Schäuble told parliamentarians he wholeheartedly supported the third bailout and that he was sure the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would take part, despite apparent differences with the EU. Many conservatives view the IMF's participation as necessary in ensuring that reforms promised by Greece are carried out.

Merkel was expected to leave a speech to parliament ahead of the vote to the finance minister, rather than addressing lawmakers herself.

Schäuble, who at one point had favored a Greek "timeout" from the eurozone, last month told parliament that the third bailout was a "last attempt" to solve to Greek sovereign debt problem. On Wednesday, he also said that the Greek government now appeared to be ready for reform.

Lawmakers in Spain, Estonia and Austria voted to ratify the deal a day earlier.

Late Tuesday, the ratings agency Fitch raised Greece's dire credit status by one notch to CCC. The rating is still deep within junk-bond status territory, reflecting an overall lack of confidence in the chances of success of the rescue package without the need for official debt relief.

"The risks to the program's success remain high," Fitch said in a statement.

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rc/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)