German Lawmakers Approve Rescue Package

by
May 21, 2010

By JUDY DEMPSEY, The New York Times

Germany’s lower house of Parliament, the Bundestag, approved a measure on Friday that allowed the country to contribute to a nearly $1 trillion debt package for the Continent.

The Bundestag voted 319 to 73 to guarantee loans of up to about $184 billion as part of the bailout package led by the International Monetary Fund. Opposition parties either abstained or voted against the measure.

The upper house, the Bundesrat, is expected to approve the bill later on Friday.

After several days of often acrimonious debate, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition of conservatives and Free Democrats managed to push through the measures only because her coalition has a comfortable majority in the Bundestag.

To the anger and disappointment of the coalition, the opposition Greens, which had last month voted for an earlier rescue package for Greece, abstained. The opposition Social Democrats also abstained and another opposition grouping, the Left Party voted against the guarantees.

Opposition leaders said they could not vote for the package because Mrs. Merkel had shown no leadership during the crisis and had no long term strategy in how to instill public confidence in the euro.

“She has no vision, no aim,” said Sigmar Gabriel, leader of the Social Democrats.

Guido Westerwelle, foreign minister and leader of the Free Democrats accused the opposition of putting domestic issues before the interests of Europe and the stability of the euro.

Mr. Merkel and the finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble have argued that the package was needed to defend the European common currency.

“We’re doing this in our best national interests,” Reuters quoted Mr. Schaeuble as saying during an impassioned speech before the vote. “The common European currency has been a huge benefit to Germany.”

To read more, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/22/world/europe/22germany.html

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