German Chancellor Angela Merkel urges conservative lawmakers to back Greek debt deal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Berlin, July 17: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble have urged conservative lawmakers to back a third debt deal for Greece, on the eve of a key Bundestag vote on the new rescue package.

Addressing the conservative CDU/CSU parliamentary faction, Merkel said she was “absolutely convinced” that the government should begin negotiations on the bailout, according to one of the participants at the extraordinary meeting.

Calling on the deputies to give the government a mandate for the negotiations, Merkel reportedly said the conditions imposed on Greece in return for the massive rescue package were tough but justified.

Schaeuble, whose hard line on Greece triggered criticism in Europe but was popular in his own country, also urged MPs at the meeting to support the agreement, participants said.

Germany is one of several EU countries whose national parliaments must sign off of any debt deal for Greece.

The measure is expected to pass with a clear majority in the Bundestag lower of house of parliament today, even if Merkel is facing growing disaffection within her CDU/CSU parties over lending more money to crisis-hit Greece.

Meanwhile, Greece`s parliament has voted overwhelmingly to accept the ‘draconian’ austerity measures demanded by creditors as the price for seeking a fresh bailout package.

However, the win came at a great personal cost to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as 40 MPs from the embattled leader’s radical leftist Syriza party denounced the measures.

A total of 229 lawmakers voted in favour of the austerity bill as opposed to 64, who voted against it. Six MPs abstained from voting, reported The Guardian.

The new measures were backed by pro-European opposition parties, including the former ruling party New Democracy as well as the ruling Syriza party’s coalition partners and the rightwing Independent Greeks.

However, the outcome is expected to significantly weaken Tsipras as his ruling Syriza-dominated two-party coalition will struggle to enforce the pension cuts and VAT increases outlined in the deal or implement any other legislation outside.

(With Agency Inputs)

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