German parliament backs talks on new Greek bailout

A total of 439 politicians at the lower house approve negotiations for new bailout worth $94bn, with 119 against.

    Chancellor Merkel has acknowledged substantial political opposition in Germany to the Greek bailout [AP]
    Chancellor Merkel has acknowledged substantial political opposition in Germany to the Greek bailout [AP]

    The German parliament has approved negotiations on a new, third bailout package for Greece hours after Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble endorsed the proposal.

    A total of 439 politicians voted at the Bundestag, the lower house of the parliament, on Friday in favour of the negotiations for the $94bn bailout plan, with 119 members voting against it, and 40 abstentions.

    The Bundesrat, the upper house, has also approved the multi-billion dollar rescue package.

    Greek islands wary new taxes could drive away tourists

    Earlier, Merkel had urged the country's legislators to approve the legislation, arguing that it would be negligent not to try for a deal.

    Merkel told the special session of parliament that legislators faced "a decision for a strong Europe and a strong eurozone".

    She said: "We would be grossly negligent, even irresponsible, if we did not at least try this road".

    On Monday, legislators from Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party had voted overwhelmingly in a preliminary poll in favour of the Greek bailout deal, ahead of Friday's parliamentary ballot.

    At the meeting on Monday that lasted five hours, 48 legislators dissented, while about 250 backed the deal.

    Members of the Social Democrats, Merkel's coalition partner, also strongly supported the agreement at their own meeting.

    EU bridging loan

    The EU Council, one of the legislative bodies of the bloc, approved a separate $7.6bn bridging loan for Greece on Friday from an EU emergency fund to keep Greece from defaulting again. 

    Al Jazeera's Dominic Kane, reporting from Berlin, said: "Merkel has accepted that there were serious concerns among many in the political class in Germany about the thought of yet another bailout.

    "But she said the euro was not just a currency, it was something that summed up Europe. As a consequence, this was metaphorically a price worth paying."

    Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday removed several government ministers who had voted against reforms demanded by international creditors in return for the rescue deal.

    Tsipras was weakened by the revolt in his left-wing Syriza party, several of whom voted on Thursday against the austerity measures demanded by creditors.

    Labour Minister Panos Skourletis will become energy minister, replacing Panagiotis Lafazanis, one of the hardline rebels in the Syriza party.

    Tryfon Alexiadis was named deputy finance minister, replacing Nadia Valavani, who stepped down earlier this week.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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