It’s all but done: The German parliament overwhelmingly voted to approve the Greek bailout today, clearing the final obstacle before the implementation of the €86 billion bailout package could start. Though dozens of MPs from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats threatened to vote against the bill, it passed by a wide margin—454 to 113, with 18 abstentions. The final breakdown of the vote was not available at the time of writing, but the arguments of the formerly skeptical FM Wolfgang Schäuble almost certainly helped carry the day. Reuters:
Schaeuble, Germany’s toughest negotiator on the Greek bailout, led calls for a ‘yes’ vote in the parliamentary debate.
“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,” said Schaeuble.
“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.
Similar measures supporting the bailout also passed in Austria, Estonia, and Spain, and are likely to pass later today in the Netherlands, where even hardline lawmakers have said they would rather not make empty gestures that would only serve to isolate the Dutch within Europe, especially in light of the German vote.
Though Europe’s elites appear to have closed ranks on the issue, the rancor unleashed by the Greek crisis will continue to percolate under the surface for quite some time. Bild’s editor-in-chief penned a lengthy editorial today that captures that mood well: “Bild is always a passionate supporter of a united Europe [and] an advocate of a single European currency, the euro… Therefore, Bild is more convinced than ever that today’s decision by the Bundestag for yet another extension of the so-called rescue of Greece with further billions is terribly wrong. This is because this policy is not bringing salvation, not for Greece, not for the euro and above all not for Europe. Quite the opposite: it is damaging the European concept because it is dividing Europe rather than uniting it.” The Greek crisis will have an afterlife.