Germany Passes Greek Bailout Package After Fractious Debate

Germany backs Greek bailout
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble attend the session of Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, July 17, 2015. German lawmakers are expected to give the government their clear backing on Friday to start negotiations on a third bailout programme for Greece, despite Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble questioning whether it will succeed. Axel Schmidt/Reuters

The German parliament has overwhelmingly passed a proposal which will allow for negotiations to go ahead on Greece's $93 billion bailout deal, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of "chaos" without the proposal.

Greece already passed a similar motion, agreeing to more austerity in exchange for the third bailout earlier this week, despite half of those who voted 'no' coming from the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's own party.

The vote in the German parliament passed by a clear majority, with 439 voting for, 119 voting against and 40 abstentions. Yet 50 conservatives from Merkel's own party chose to defy her as did 63 members from the left-wing Linke party, and the accompanying debate was hostile.

Merkel opened the debate this morning warning of "predictable chaos" if the plan was blocked.

"We would be grossly negligent, and act irresponsibly, if we didn't at least attempt this way," she told the assembled politicians.

Yet Klaus Peter Willsch, one of the CDU rebels, told the chamber: "However much water you put into a bottomless barrel it will never fill up."

At podium, Klaus Peter Willsch, one of the #CDU rebels "However much water you put into a bottomless barrel it will never fill up" #Greece

— Kate Connolly (@connollyberlin) July 17, 2015

The German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble was also the target of some strong words. Opposition leaders from the Linke party — an ally of Syriza — accused Merkel and Schäuble of "making the biggest mistake of your political careers".

"Mr Schäuble, I'm sorry but you are destroying the European idea," said Gregor Gysi, the Linke floor leader.

There has been a backlash in German media and society to the bailout package forced on Athens which involves Greece partially ceding its fiscal sovereignty to its creditors, representatives of whom will be stationed in Athens to oversee reforms.

Schäuble admitted yesterday on German radio that a voluntary departure from the eurozone "could perhaps be a better way" for Greece, instead of the country accepting a third bailout package.

However today he asked the parliament to back the vote, saying: "We believe that there is a chance to bring these talks to a successful conclusion."

The deal requires the consent of several other European parliaments before formal negotiations can start.

Earlier today, the Austrian parliament voted in favour of opening talks with Greece on the new bailout.

Meanwhile, Austrian Parliament approves in vote to start talks on third programme for #Greece

— Open Europe (@OpenEurope) July 17, 2015

Germany's Bild tabloid newspaper, a staunch opponent of a further Greek bailout, ran the headline this morning: "Seven reasons why the Bundestag should vote No today", listing that "a Grexit is a better solution" and "our grandchildren will pay" among its reasons.