German Lawmakers Give Greece Some Good News

Despite acknowledging that the bailout will result in lost federal revenue and bring additional costs to taxpayers, German lawmakers in the lower house of Parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve the latest round of financial support for Greece.

With elections scheduled for next September, Reuters questioned whether Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel could “rely on her coalition” to pass the bailout or if she would need votes from members of the opposing Social Democrats and Greens. However, the vote was never in doubt; 473 members of the lower house, including many of the opposition, voted in favor of the bailout and 100 voted against it.

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Speaking to parliament after the vote, Christian Democrat floor leader Michael Grosse-Broemer said he was pleased the with results, but added that “Greece must now continue its efforts to reduce its debts and carry out structural reforms.”

But the financial package, which was designed to cut Greek debt to 124 percent of gross national product by 2020, has led to talk among German lawmakers and media that governments in the euro zone will have to write off much of their Greek debt. As Reuters reported, during the weeks of negotiations leading up to the deal, the SPD claimed that the government was “deceiving German voters by insisting that no further write-down’s of Greek debt will be necessary.”

SPD leaders also found fault with Merkel’s government for putting off a Greek debt haircut, a practice which subtracts a percentage from the market value an asset that is being used as collateral, for its own political purposes.

Yet in the end, opposing lawmakers supported the deal. “We will vote for it because we don’t want our reliability as European partners left in any doubt,” said SPD chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrueck during Friday’s debate. “It has nothing to do with the government.”

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