Merkel faces difficult Greek vote in parliament

Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:45pm EST
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - The German parliament will almost certainly vote to endorse a new Greek bailout package on Monday, but Chancellor Angela Merkel may be forced to rely on opposition support to overcome a determined band of rebels in her coalition.

At least a dozen members of parliament in Merkel's center-right coalition said they would vote against the 130 billion-euro ($175 billion) rescue package. If the number of rebels rises to at least 20, the measure will pass only with opposition support.

That would be a humiliating defeat for Merkel, which analysts and opposition leaders said would raise doubts over whether her coalition can survive.

Merkel's allies are confident they have enough votes for a majority. The opposition Social Democrats and Greens will vote for it.

Merkel is due to lead the debate in parliament starting at 3 p.m. (1400 GMT) Monday, with the vote scheduled for later in the day.

Merkel needs 311 votes to reach a majority in the 620-member parliament. Her government commands 330 seats.

However, in a September 27 vote, 15 deputies in her coalition broke ranks, leaving the governing coalition with the narrow majority of 315 seats on that occasion.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks around during a guided walking tour of the northern German city of Stralsund February 24, 2012.  REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen