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04/12/2016

German conservatives push for vote on Greek deal

Elections

German conservatives push for vote on Greek deal

Merkel and Tsipras dance the Sirtaki in radio advert. Brussels, March 2015. [Georgi Gotev]

A group of hardliners among German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have urged lawmakers to take a tough stance on a loan extension to Greece, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported on Wednesday (25 February.)

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has written to the speaker of the lower house of parliament requesting a vote this week on extending the bailout.

But a group of conservatives, composed of politicians who have opposed bailouts in the past, have publicly warned against being too lenient on Greece, underscoring misgivings about the loan extension among Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).

“A simple extension of the aid programme without effective terms would mean that we are knowingly throwing further good money after bad,” warned the head of the CDU committee, Kurt Lauk, and its secretary general, Wolfgang Steiger, in a letter to lawmakers cited by the paper.

In a separate report published in the Handelsblatt on Tuesday, conservative Bavarian politician David Bendels called on parliament to reject the extension to Greece’s financial rescue.

“Anything else would be grossly negligent and a betrayal of the German taxpayer,” Bendels — the spokesman of a “breakaway” conservative group who have warned that Greece can no longer stay in the euro — told the paper.

The hardliners are still a small group in Merkel’s coalition with the Social Democrats, which has a comfortable majority in the lower house of parliament of 504 seats. 

Background

Greece secured a four-month extension of its financial rescue on Tuesday (24 February) when its eurozone partners approved a reform plan that backed down on key leftist measures and promised that spending to alleviate social distress would not derail its budget.

>> Read: Eurozone approves Greek reform plan with reservations

Germany's rejection of an initial Greek request for a six-month loan extension forced Athens into a string of politically sensitive concessions, postponing or backing away from campaign promises to reverse austerity, scrap the bailout and end cooperation with the "troika" of EU, ECB and IMF inspectors.