Merkel faces hefty rebellion in Greek aid vote

German Chancellor Angela Merkel may struggle to win a parliamentary vote next week’s on Greece’s bailout without the humiliation of relying on opposition party support, lawmakers in her centre-right coalition said on Wednesday.

Highlighting how unpopular aid for Greece is in Germany, the biggest contributor to the 130 billion euro bailout, several lawmakers from Merkel’s conservatives and her junior partner, the Free Democrats (FDP), said they planned to oppose the package.

There is little doubt that the Bundestag lower house will pass the package, agreed by euro zone finance ministers in the early hours of Tuesday, due to the backing of the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens.

But it would be a blow to Merkel if she has to rely on the opposition in Monday’s vote. The parliamentary budget committee is due to discuss the package on Friday.

With an eye on voters who are sceptical about another bailout, Germany insisted on tough conditions to be attached to the financial rescue, including stricter supervision of Greek reforms and a special escrow account for bailout funds.

This, politicians hoped, would help to ease the bailout’s passage through the Bundestag but it has not convinced all the rebels, many of whom have voted against Merkel’s government before.

”I will vote ’no’ whatever happens because this is purely about delaying an insolvency,” Klaus-Peter Willsch of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), told Reuters.

The FDP, which has long been more reluctant to agree to bailouts and whose line has been ”no blank cheques”, also has rebels. ”We are in a spiral which we have to get out of and therefore I will vote against,” FDP lawmaker Sylvia Canel told Reuters.

Four other members of Merkel’s coalition have also said they intended to vote ”no”, adding that they knew of other lawmakers who wanted to do the same.

Merkel will be in trouble if more than 19 lawmakers vote against or abstain.

While riding high in opinion polls due partly to her tough stance on Greece, Merkel had to cave into the FDP and opposition on Sunday and agree to their favoured candidate for federal president after her choice resigned over a sleaze scandal.

The standoff and clear deterioration of relations within the ruling coalition has raised questions about whether some waiverers in the FDP will be emboldened to make a stand.

Rebels have opposed the coalition on issues related to the euro zone debt crisis before, notably in an October vote on boosting the euro zone’s European Financial Stability Facility rescue fund, but so far Merkel has not had to rely on the opposition.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the government was confident the vote would pass.

Homing in on public opposition to stumping up more money for Greece, SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel called on the government to freeze the accounts of Greek tax exiles in Germany.

”I do not want to see pensioners in Greece and the little people pay any more while millionaires and billionaries put their money abroad,” Gabriel said in a speech. [Reuters]

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