Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is readying plans for parliamentary votes on a bailout for Greece as soon as next week while Greek political leaders struggle for consensus on terms of the aid, the deputy floor leader of Merkel’s party said.
Lower-house lawmakers are discussing as many as three separate votes on the package now being thrashed out in Athens, plus allied measures to enable the participation of the euro- area’s financial backstop, Michael Meister, who is also the parliamentary finance spokesman for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said in an interview today.
“Whether to vote on everything in one package or whether to divide it up into one, two or three packages is something we can look at calmly,” Meister said by telephone today from his office in Berlin.
Meister’s comments suggest that the German government, the biggest contributor to euro-area rescues, is looking beyond the bailout talks playing out in Athens over the past six days in anticipation of a successful outcome. Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is due to negotiate today with leaders of the political parties supporting his caretaker government.
In addition to a vote on the 130 billion-euro ($173 billion) aid package, Meister said there may be votes on steps to empower the European Financial Stability Facility to guarantee Greek government bonds held by the European Central Bank and to guarantee some Greek bonds held by the private sector after a debt swap.
Merkel’s coalition parties last year backed amendments to the EFSF on the condition that any payments by Germany be approved by parliamentary majority.
The German government is considering convening a special sitting of parliament next week in the event that a deal is reached in Athens, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told lawmakers yesterday, according to two people who took part.
The Finance Ministry denied a report in the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper today that Schaeuble was considering postponing votes on Greece to keep up pressure on the Papademos government. Holding separate votes at different times is not attempt by Germany to delay parts of the second aid package, Marianne Kothe told reporters in Berlin today.
A vote in Germany’s lower house, or Bundestag, on a 100 billion-euro EFSF payment for Greece can’t be decoupled from the other votes because the private sector may balk at making its own contribution if the second package for Greece isn’t assured, Meister said.
--Editors: Alan Crawford, James Hertling
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