Greece bailout set to get strong German Parliament backing

AP News
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Posted: Feb 26, 2015 8:35 AM
Greece bailout set to get strong German Parliament backing

BERLIN (AP) — Greece's four-month bailout extension should get wide, if unenthusiastic, support in the German Parliament after a large majority of lawmakers in Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc signaled their backing on Thursday.

Parliament will vote Friday on the deal hammered out by eurozone finance ministers, which set to win support across the political spectrum despite some irritation over recent comments by Greek officials.

Volker Kauder, caucus leader of Merkel's bloc, said an "overwhelming majority" of his lawmakers will back the agreement.

In a test vote among the 311 conservative lawmakers, 22 opposed the bailout extension and five abstained. A minority of conservative lawmakers has consistently voted against bailouts over the five years of Europe's debt crisis.

Merkel's current coalition with the center-left Social Democrats, who are solidly behind the deal, has four-fifths of the 631 parliamentary seats and some support is expected from the opposition, too. That lessens the pressure on conservative rebels to toe the party line.

Key creditor Germany has advocated unpopular spending cuts and insisted that aid must come with strings attached. Comments by Greek officials casting doubt on privatization deals and raising the possibility of further debt relief have irked some in Germany.

"We will vote yes, but we expect Greece to keep to what it has pledged," Kauder said.

Kauder said his caucus finds some comments coming out of Greece "inappropriate."

"However, we aren't taking our decisions on the basis of these loutish comments that are coming out — we are taking the decisions that are necessary in the interest of Germany and Europe," he said.

The mass-circulation Bild daily, which has long taken a hardline stance against bailouts, covered Thursday's second page with the word "NO!" and added: "No more billions for the greedy Greeks!"