German parliament backs third Greek bailout package

BERLIN (BLOOMBERG) - Greece's third bailout cleared one of its last hurdles after the German parliament voted in favour of the aid package of as much as 86 billion euros (S$130 billion).

Germany's lower house backed the program following a three- hour debate on Wednesday, with 454 in favour, 113 against and 18 abstentions.

A breakdown showing the number of dissenters within Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat-led bloc will be released later. The euro was up 0.2 per cent as of 12:14 p.m. in Berlin.

The Bundestag approved the bailout after a week of hard lobbying from Ms Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble to stem a possible revolt within their caucus.

Ms Merkel voiced confidence Tuesday that the International Monetary Fund will help provide loans, while Mr Schaeuble told lawmakers yesterday that extending Greece's financial lifeline is in Europe's interest.

The Social Democrats, Ms Merkel's coalition partner, and the opposition Greens also supported the measure. "After the experiences of the past months and years, there are no guarantees that all this will work and doubts are always allowed," Mr Schaeuble told lawmakers in Berlin.

"But given the fact that the Greek parliament has already adopted a large part of the measures, it would be irresponsible not to seize the chance for a new start in Greece."

Bailout opponents argue Greece is in a debt trap and that policy makers are bending euro-area rules to hold the currency union together. Bild, Germany's most-read newspaper, said in an editorial opposing the program that "it doesn't offer a rescue - not for Greece, not for the euro and certainly not for Europe" after "five wasted years of rescue policies."

Ms Merkel's coalition has consistently backed financial rescues during Europe's debt crisis, though dissent has grown with each ballot. Germany has been the biggest country contributor to euro-area bailouts.