While senior lawmakers say almost all of Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc will back the four-month reprieve for Greece in a lower-house vote today, 22 of the 311 caucus members opposed the measure in a straw poll yesterday, nine more than voted against Greece’s second bailout in 2012.
Goading them on was Alternative for Germany, the anti-euro party that has won seats in four German state parliaments since August and is seeking to boost its national standing on the back of dissatisfaction with euro-area bailouts. Party co-leader Bernd Lucke urged Christian Democratic lawmakers to shun party discipline and vote their conscience.
“It’s a problem” for the Christian Democrats, said Gero Neugebauer, a political analyst at Berlin’s Free University. MPs who disagree with Merkel’s bailout policies are looking at regional elections down the road, and the aid “is against their convictions as well”.
Opponents include Wolfgang Bosbach, a six-term Christian Democratic lawmaker who chairs the interior affairs committee and who says he is considering ending his parliamentary career after consistently opposing bailouts.
Hans Michelbach of the Bavaria-based Christian Social Union says he will refuse to back Ms Merkel for the first time because he thinks the rescue will not work. Peter Ramsauer, a CSU lawmaker and former transportation minister under Ms Merkel, also says he will vote against the extension.
“Lawmakers are called upon to make up their own minds” whether aid to Greece should be extended, Lucke said. One reason is that a third bailout for Greece “is unavoidable as long as the country stays in the euro and the rescue policies don’t change”.
Twenty-two Christian Democrat MPs opposed further aid in the straw poll and five abstained, caucus leader Volker Kauder said. The Social Democrats, Merkel’s junior coalition partner, support aid to Greece in return for reform pledges. Her government controls 504 of the 631 lower-house seats.
“We will give our approval, but we expect Greece to meet its commitments,” said Kauder. Though the Greek government is striking an “inappropriate” tone toward its eurozone partners, “we are making decisions that are needed in Germany’s interest and in Europe’s interest”, he said.
Bild, Germany’s most-read daily newspaper, denounced the government’s support for Greece yesterday and splashed the word ‘Nein’ — German for ‘no’ — across its editorial page, urging readers to take photos of themselves holding it.