Give Greece a chance, says Schaeuble before German vote

Wed Aug 19, 2015 5:38am EDT
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By Paul Carrel and Tina Bellon

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble urged lawmakers to back a third bailout for Greece in a vote on Wednesday, saying while there were no guarantees of success, it would be irresponsible not to give Greeks the chance for a new start.

Lawmakers are expected to overwhelmingly support the 86 billion-euro ($95 billion) bailout, though Chancellor Angela Merkel faces a dangerous rebellion in her own party ranks.

A significant minority of Merkel's conservatives voting against the package would send the government a warning that this is its last chance to keep debt-ridden Greece in the 19-country euro zone.

Schaeuble, who has taken a tougher line than Merkel in bailout talks and last month tabled the option of a 'timeout' from the euro zone for Greece, told lawmakers it was the best path for the currency bloc to follow.

"Of course, after the experience of the last years and months there is no guarantee that everything will work and it is permissible to have doubts," Schaeuble said in his address to the Bundestag lower house.

"But in view of the fact that the Greek parliament has already passed a large part of the measures it would be irresponsible to not use the opportunity for a new start in Greece," he said, making the case for the government.

In a test ballot of conservative lawmakers late on Tuesday - a non-binding vote - a clear majority voted in favor of the bailout. Sixty of out of 311 voted 'no' or abstained, fewer than some in her party had feared.

The results of the vote are expected at around 1200 local time (0600 EDT).   Continued...

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble addresses a session of Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, August 19, 2015, prior to a vote on Greece's third bailout programme.  REUTERS/Axel Schmidt