German parliament to vote on euro plans on Oct 26

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Berlin, Oct 25: German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces a crucial parliamentary vote on Oct 26 on Europe's new strategy to resolve the euro zone debt crisis, which was negotiated with her EU partners at the summit in Brussels.

Merkel's conservative-liberal ruling coalition yesterday surprisingly agreed to a vote in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, on the latest euro zone debt initiative, especially on plans to boost the firepower of the group's emergency rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

Until now, the coalition parties strongly resisted opposition demands for a Bundestag debate on the proposed changes to the EFSF saying that an endorsement by the 42-member Bundestag budgetary committee would be sufficient.

Last Friday, the Bundestag rejected with the majority of the ruling parties a motion by the opposition Green party calling for a debate on this issue.

Monday's turnaround by the ruling coalition came after the leaders of the opposition parties, at a meeting with Merkel, pressed her government to agree to a Bundestag debate demanding that parliament should be fully involved in taking a decision on such an issue of national significance.

They reminded her of a recent ruling by the Federal Constitutional court that the Bundestag must have a bigger say in future bailout of euro zone partners and each case must be debated by the house.

Volker Kauder, parliamentary leader of conservative group in the Bundestag, said the coalition decided to hold a vote on the EFSF issue tomorrow to make sure that chancellor Merkel can take part in the negotiations of the EU summit in Brussels later in the day with "full parliamentary support."

It will be a setback for the chancellor if she fails to win enough votes from her own coalition to pass the proposed changes to the bailout fund, which include bolstering its ability to give credit guarantees up to 2 trillion euros through a credit leverage mechanism.

In a similar vote in the Bundestag a month ago, a legislation endorsing a decision by the EU leaders on July 21 to increase the size of the bailout fund to 440 billion euros and to give it new powers to avert a debt crisis, was passed with a narrow majority of the coalition camp even though 15 "rebel" coalition MPs hostile to further bailouts after Greece, Ireland and Portugal had voted against it.

That legislation received an overwhelming support of 523 votes in the 620-member house after the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green party joined the coalition to vote for it.

Some leaders of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union have expressed fears that in tomorrow's vote, the coalition may not succeed in mobilising sufficient votes to pass the proposed changes to the EFSF with its own majority, media reports said.

PTI

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